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Christmas Winds Kick Up Waves and Memories

Dec. 24, 2008 – Wind gusts hitting 30 mph at Weather Station Zephyr on Ajax Peak, St. John are a sure sign the Christmas Winds are here.
"It should stay breezy to windy through Friday," Brian Seeley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan, said Wednesday.
The winds will "relax" a little bit through the weekend, but Seeley said it will still be breezy.
Residents across the territory should also look for intermittent rain squalls for the next several days.
While Seeley said he was unfamiliar with the term Christmas Winds, he said the weather was caused by a strong high-pressure system over the western Atlantic east of Cape Hatteras and as far north as New Jersey.
"It's building into the central Atlantic," Seeley said.
According the Fish and Wildlife Division of Planning and Natural Resource's website, trade winds are often interrupted from December to February by "northers", locally known as "Christmas Winds" that blow from the north or northwest. These winds are often accompanied by rain and large waves from the north. No one could be reached at Planning because the local government was off Wednesday afternoon.
Winter always brings cooler temperatures, and at Weather Station Zephyr the temperature dropped to 69.7 degrees at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
On this same day in 2007, the top wind speed hit 10 mph with the lowest temperature 74 during the overnight hours. By Christmas Day 2007, the winds ran 15 to 20 mph, with a gust of 25 mph at 2 a.m. The temperature hit a low of 73.6 degrees at 6 a.m. on Christmas.
Although Seeley may not know about Christmas Winds, local residents do.
"It's traditional," Hubert Brumant, manager at Magens Bay Beach on St. Thomas said.
While the skies were overcast at Magens Bay, Brumant said that visitors were still coming. Seas were only about three feet at Magens Bay, a situation Brumant said was probably due to the protected nature of the area. He said the more exposed Lindqvist Beach, now called Smith Bay Park, had seas above six feet.
At Cane Bay Dive Shop on St. Croix, a woman who gave her name only as Autumn, said it was windy and the sea was murky in shallow water.
"It's not pretty," she said.
However, she said the dive shop was still taking people out because it was clear in deeper water.
The origin of the phrase Christmas winds seems to be lost in time, but most local residents know what they mean.
"We love the Christmas winds," St. John resident Guy Benjamin said.
He said in olden days, boats could sail back from St. Thomas in 2.5 hours rather than the six to eight hours it usually took thanks to the Christmas Winds.
"The winds come crosswise," he said.

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