The 2017 Hurricane Season
After a relatively quiet few years, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the worst on record both in terms of the number of storms and their strength. The Eastern Caribbean islands which are covered by Hike Caribbean were struck by two category five storms within just twelve days in September. A category five hurricane is the strongest strength of hurricane with sustained winds over 160 miles per hour.
On September 6th Hurricane Maria made landfall in Barbuda, Antigua’s sister island, with sustained winds estimated to be around 185 MPH. Although there was only one death on the island its infrastructure and population were decimated, and all its residents have since all been moved to Antigua. As a flat low-lying island, Barbuda not only suffered from the catastrophic wind damage from the eye of the storm, but a huge sea surge flooded many of the buildings on the islands leaving them beyond repair. Fortunately, Antigua came of relatively lightly with very little damage to its infrastructure and all the resorts and hotels are now open for business. Barbuda, by contrast, will take years to recover and it is still uncertain as to when and if its residents will be able to return.
Twelve days later a second category five hurricane exploded from a mere tropical storm in 24 hours as it headed towards the Eastern Caribbean. There was initially some doubt as to where it would make landfall and residents in Dominic weren’t prepared for the strength and direction of the impending storm. On the night of September 18th Maria passed directly over the island of Dominica as a category 5 storm with winds of 160 MPH. The whole island was devastated and at least 30 people died. Sadly, the final death toll may never be known as some residents were swept away by mudslides which cascaded down the mountains. Aside from the destruction to buildings, Maria effectively deforested much of the lush, rainforest through this mountainous island. Like Barbuda, Dominica will take years to recover in terms of the buildings and population although, happily, the lush green forest which Dominica is famous for is already starting to spring back to live amongst the devastation. And although there was catastrophic damage on Dominica, fortunately, the other islands covered by Hike Caribbean were sparred.