Hurricanes in the Virgin Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hurricane Irma is the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Virgin Islands.

The Virgin Islands (Spanish: Islas Vírgenes) are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The islands fall into three different political jurisdictions:

This list includes all tropical cyclones that have struck one or all of the above territories. For the period that reasonably reliable records exist, tropical storms strike the Territory on average approximately once every 8 years, although that includes strikes which only affected the northernmost (and lightly populated) island of Anegada.

In the 20th century, the Virgin Islands experienced 13 hurricanes, but they came largely in two clusters. The Territory experienced five hurricanes from 1916 to 1932 (inclusive), and then only one during the next 57 years. But then between 1989 and 1999 (inclusive) seven hurricanes struck the Territory (including six in the space of four years from 1995–1999). That was then followed by another 11-year hiatus without any hurricane strikes.

Twice in recent times the territories have experienced a rapid double-strike: in 1995 Hurricane Luis was followed nine days later by Hurricane Marilyn, and in 2017 Hurricane Irma was followed 14 days later by Hurricane Maria.

Year Hurricane name Category[1] Notes
Modern era
2019 Hurricane Dorian 1 Eye passed over St Thomas. Some Western islands experienced low hurricane-force winds. No deaths or serious damage reported.
2017 Hurricane Maria 5 Eye passed over the south of Saint Croix. Caused catastrophic damage. Struck two weeks after Hurricane Irma. In the intervening period another major hurricane (Hurricane Jose) narrowly missed the Territory.[2]
2017 Hurricane Irma 5 Strongest Atlantic forming hurricane ever recorded. Eye passed directly over Virgin Gorda, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke. Caused 4 deaths and catastrophic damage.[3][4][5]
2011 Hurricane Irene 3 ]. .[6]
2010 Hurricane Earl 1 Eye passed to the north of Anegada. Caused only slight damage.[7]
2008 Hurricane Omar 3 . .[8]
1999 Hurricane Lenny 1 Known locally as "wrong-way" Lenny, it is the only known Caribbean forming hurricane to strike the Territory. Passed well to the south, causing only light damage.[9]
1999 Hurricane Jose 1 Eye passed very close to the south of the Territory. Caused only light damage.[10]
1998 Hurricane Georges 2 Eye passed to the south. Caused moderate damage.[11]
1996 Hurricane Bertha 1 Eye passed directly over the Territory. Caused moderate damage.[12]
1995 Hurricane Marilyn 1 Eye passed to the north. Caused catastrophic damage leaving 20% of the population homeless. Struck nine days after Hurricane Luis.[13]
1995 Hurricane Luis 2 Eye passed to the north. Caused moderate damage.[14]
1989 Hurricane Hugo 4 First hurricane to strike the main island of Tortola in over 50 years. Eye passed over the south of Saint Croix. Caused significant damage.[15]
Early 20th century
1960 Hurricane Donna 2 Eye passed to the north of Anegada.[16]
1932 San Ciprián hurricane 3 Eye passed narrowly to the south of the Territory. Few contemporaneous reports of the extent of the damage.[17]
1931 San Nicolas Hurricane 2 Eye passed directly over the Territory. Few contemporaneous reports of the extent of the damage.[18]
1924 "Gale of 1924" 2–3 Eye passed directly over the Territory.[19] The storm was well documented by Agnes "Cuckoo" Hancock, wife of Commissioner Otho Lewis Hancock. Her letters are preserved in the Government House museum.[20][21]
1922 Unnamed hurricane 2 Eye passed directly over Anegada.[22]
1916 Unnamed hurricane 2–3 Eye passed to the west of the Territory. Possibly a non-Cape Verde hurricane.[23][24]
Late 19th century
1899 Unnamed hurricane 2 Eye passes to the north of Anegada. No other island significantly affected.[25]
1894 Unnamed hurricane 2 [26]
1889 Hurricane San Martín 2 [27]
1876 San Felipe hurricane 3
1871 Hurricane Santa Juana 2 Eye passed directly over the Territory.
1867 San Narciso hurricane 3 Eye passed directly over the Territory. Sank the RMS Rhone. Caused 26 deaths on land, and an estimated further 123 died on the Rhone.[28]
1866 Great Bahamas Hurricane of 1866 1 Eye passed to the north of Anegada, and only that island was affected.[29]
1852 Unnamed hurricane 1 [30]
Prior to 1850 hurricane reports are sporadic and not generally reliable. Only well known or observed storms are generally recorded. Because the British Virgin Islands were sparsely populated during this period, records often do not indicate even if well-known storms struck the Territory.
1819 Hurricane San Mateo Unknown Reportedly destroyed the original St George's Anglican church in Road Town.[31][32]
1780 Great Hurricane of 1780 Unknown Eye is believed to have passed some distance to the south the Territory. No deaths are recorded, but a Quaker settlement was reported as abandoned because of the hurricane.[33]


  1. ^ Refers to maximum wind-strength experienced in the British Virgin Islands – not overall maximum wind-strength of the storm.
  2. ^ "Hurricane Maria: British Virgin Islands battered by Irma escape fresh devastation as storm hurtles towards more UK territories". Evening Standard. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ "'We are still in survival mode': island of Tortola rebuilds after Hurricane Irma". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Help Us! Cries for assistance after Irma leaves widespread devastation". BVI News. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  5. ^ "All 4 casualties of Hurricane Irma now identified". BVI News. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Hurricane Irene" (PDF). National Weather Service. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  7. ^ "Hurricane Earl – September 3, 2010". National Weather Service. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Hurricane Omar". National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Hurricane Lenny 1989". Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  10. ^ "AL14 Hurricane Jose (1999)" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  11. ^ Guiney, John L. (5 January 1999). Preliminary Report Hurricane Georges 15 September – 01 October 1998 (updated September 2014) (PDF). National Hurricane Center (Report). NOAA. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  12. ^ Miles B. Lawrence (1996). "Hurricane Bertha Tropical Cyclone Report". National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  13. ^ Rappaport, Edward N; National Hurricane Center (17 January 1996). Hurricane Marilyn: September 12–22, 1995 (PDF) (Preliminary Report). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  14. ^ Miles B. Lawrence (8 January 1996). "Hurricane Luis Preliminary Report" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  15. ^ Lawrence, Miles (15 November 1989). Preliminary Report: Hurricane Hugo (PDF) (Report). National Hurricane Center. pp. 1–2, 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  16. ^ NOAA. "Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones: Major Hurricane Donna". The Weather Underground. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  17. ^ Unisys (1932). "1932 Unisys Archive". Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
  18. ^ "Monthly Weather Review (June 1931)" (PDF). Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  19. ^ Monthly Weather Review (PDF) (Report). United States Weather Bureau. 1924. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  20. ^ "Deadly 1924 hurricane". BVI Guides. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  21. ^ "The 1924 Hurricane". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Unisys tracking data for 1922". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  23. ^ "Monthly Weather Review" (PDF). Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  24. ^ "The Hurricane of 1916". BVI Review. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  25. ^ Jose F. Partagas (1996). Year 1899 (PDF). Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. pp. 39–53. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  26. ^ "Unisys 1894 season tracks". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  27. ^ "HURDAT Data for the 1889 Atlantic hurricane season". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  28. ^ Mújica-Baker, Frank. Huracanes y Tormentas que han afectado a Puerto Rico (PDF). Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, Agencia Estatal para el manejo de Emergencias y Administracion de Desastres. pp. 9–10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  29. ^ José Fernández Partagás (2003). "Year 1866" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  30. ^ Chris Landsea (2007). "Counting Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Back to 1900" (PDF). Eos Transactions. American Meteorological Society. 88 (18): 197–202. Bibcode:2007EOSTr..88..197L. doi:10.1029/2007EO180001. S2CID 128942012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 23 July 2007.
  31. ^ Harriet Greenberg, Douglas Greenberg (2008). British Virgin Islands: Alive!. Hunter Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1588435071.
  32. ^ Caribbean Atmospheric Research Center. "Tropical storms and hurricanes that passed within 2 degrees latitude of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands from 1515-2004". University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. Archived from the original on 18 November 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  33. ^ Dr James Lazell (2005). Island Fact and Theory in Nature. University of California Press. p. 316. ISBN 0520243528.