Kwajalein and the Kwajalein Atoll

Kwajalein Atoll is located in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the west central Pacific Ocean.
Kwajalein lies 2,100 nautical miles (nmi) southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii. It is in the same general latitude as the southern Philippines (less than 700 nmi north of the equator) and the same general longitude as New Zealand, 2,300 nmi to the south.
Kwajalein and the surrounding Marshall Islands are west of the International Date Line and therefore one day ahead of the Continental United States. Kwajalein is 17 hours ahead of the east coast of the United States during standard time and 16 hours ahead during daylight savings time. Example: Kwajalein at noon Sunday equals Washington D.C. at 7:00 PM EST (8:00 PM EDT) Saturday.

About the Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) consists of a double chain of 34 atolls with a total land area of 74 square miles. In the Marshall Islands, land rights and clan membership are transmitted by a mother to each of her children. The use of Kwajalein Atoll as a missile range is made possible through lease agreements negotiated with the RMI.

Kwajalein Atoll is s coral reef formation in the shape of a crescent loop enclosing the world’s largest lagoon with a surface area of 1,100 square miles.

Situated on the reef enclosing the lagoon are approximately 100 small islands with a total land area of 5.6 square miles. Kwajalein, one of the atoll’s three largest islands, is ½ mile wide and 2 ½ miles long (approximately 1.2 square miles in area). The atoll’s largest dimension is 75 nmi from Kwajalein Island to Ebadon Island and its average width is 15 nmi.

Approximately 13,500 Marshallese citizens live on 14 islands within the atoll, with the largest population (12,500) living on Ebeye, a 15-minute ferry ride from Kwajalein Island. About 1,000 Marshallese citizens are employed at USAKA.

Island Climate

The land surface of Kwajalein Island, which has very little effect on the climate of the locality, has an average elevation of less than 10 feet above mean sea level (msl). Highest points of the island are 12 to 15 feel above msl.

Kwajalein, located less than 700 nmi north of the equator, has a tropical marine climate characterized by (1) relatively high annual rainfall, and (2) warm to hot, humid weather throughout the year.

Temperatures vary little from day to day and month to month, with average high temperatures of 88 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Highs occur in the early afternoon and lows occur with showers at any time of the day, or in the early morning if there are no showers.

Because of the low latitude, there are only slight seasonal variations in the length of daylight periods and the altitude of the sun at Kwajalein. As a result, the variation of the amount of solar energy received is small.

The small variation in solar energy and the marine influence are the principle reasons for the uniform temperature between the coldest month and the warmest month, a variance of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

September, October, and November are the wettest months. Light easterly winds, almost constant cloudiness, and frequent moderate to heavy showers prevail during the wet season.

The dry season includes the period from mid-December to mid-May and is characterized not so much by a lack of showers as by light showers of short duration. In this season, the trade winds are persistent, blowing from the northeast at 15-20 knots almost continuously. Cloudiness is at a minimum and the sky is less than half-covered most of the time, but clear skies are rare.

Severe storms and damaging winds are uncommon in the vicinity of Kwajalein. However, weaker depressions may form near the island during any season. Some of these intensify and eventually develop into typhoons after moving westward away from the island. These depressions can cause heavy rainfall in the Kwajalein Atoll.

The relative humidity is uniformly high throughout the year, and is slightly higher in the wet season than in the dry season. The combination of high humidity and proximity of the saltwater ocean presents a corrosion problem.

Source: US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

Additional weather information can be found at www.rts-wx.com


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