List of British Virgin Islands hurricanes

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

The list of British Virgin Islands hurricanes includes all tropical cyclones which have struck the British Virgin Islands which caused at least hurricane force winds (74 mph (64 kn; 119 km/h) or greater) to affect at least some part of the Territory. Hurricanes which passed close to the Territory but which only caused wind speeds of tropical storm force or below are not included.

Every known hurricane to strike the Territory except one (Hurricane Lenny, 1999) or possibly two (hurricane of 1916) have been Cape Verde hurricanes. As a result, even though hurricane season technically runs from 1 June through 30 November, virtually all of the hurricane strikes occur in the month of September.[1]

For the period that reasonably reliable records exist, hurricanes 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 twentieth century the British 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 Territory has experienced a rapid double-strike: in 1995 Hurricane Luis was followed nine days later by Hurricane Marilyn, and in 2017 Hurricane Irma was followed fourteen days later by Hurricane Maria.

Year Hurricane Name Category[2] Notes
Modern era
2017 Hurricane Maria 5 Eye passed over the south of St Croix. Caused only slight damage. Struck two weeks after Hurricane Irma. In the intervening period another major hurricane (Hurricane Jose) narrowly missed the Territory.[3]
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.[4][5][6]
2010 Hurricane Earl 1 Eye passed to the north of Anegada. Caused only slight damage.[7]
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.[8]
1999 Hurricane Jose 1 Eye passed very close to the south of the Territory. Caused only light damage.[9]
1998 Hurricane Georges 2 Eye passed to the south. Caused moderate damage.[10]
1996 Hurricane Bertha 1 Eye passed directly over the Territory. Caused moderate damage.[11]
1995 Hurricane Marilyn 1 Eye passed to the north. Caused moderate damage. Struck nine days after Hurricane Luis.[12]
1995 Hurricane Luis 2 Eye passed to the north. Caused moderate damage.[13]
1989 Hurricane Hugo 4 First hurricane to strike the main island of Tortola in over 50 years. Eye passed over the south of St Croix. Caused significant damage.[14]
Early 20th century
1960 Hurricane Donna 2 Eye passed to the north of Anegada.[15]
1932 San Ciprian hurricane 3 Eye passed narrowly to the south of the Territory. Few contemporaneous reports of the extent of the damage.[16]
1931 San Nicolas Hurricane 2 Eye passed directly over the Territory. Few contemporaneous reports of the extent of the damage.[17]
1924 "Gale of 1924" 2-3 Eye passed directly over the Territory.[18] The storm was well documented by Agnes "Cuckoo" Hancock, wife of Commissioner Otho Lewis Hancock. Her letters are preserved in the Government House museum.[19][20]
1922 Unnamed hurricane 2 Eye passed directly over Anegada.[21]
1916 Unnamed hurricane 2-3 Eye passed to the west of the Territory. Possibly a non-Cape Verde hurricane.[22][23]
Late 19th century
1899 Unnamed hurricane 2 Eye passes to the north of Anegada. No other island significantly affected.[24]
1894 Unnamed hurricane 2 [25]
1889 Hurricane San Martín 2 [26]
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.[27]
1866 Great Bahamas Hurricane of 1866 1 Eye passed to the north of Anegada, and only that island was affected.[28]
1852 Unnamed hurricane 1 [29]
Pre-1850
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 was 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.[30][31]
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.[32]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Since 1900 the only exceptions to this have been Hurricane Bertha and Hurricane Jose (and Hurricane Lenny, which was a non-Cape Verde hurricane).
  2. ^ Refers to maximum wind-strength experienced in the British Virgin Islands - not overall maximum wind-strength of the storm.
  3. ^ "Hurricane Maria: British Virgin Islands battered by Irma escape fresh devastation as storm hurtles towards more UK territories". Evening Standard. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ "'We are still in survival mode': island of Tortola rebuilds after Hurricane Irma". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Help Us! Cries for assistance after Irma leaves widespread devastation". BVI News. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  6. ^ "All 4 casualties of Hurricane Irma now identified". BVI News. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Hurricane Earl - September 3, 2010". National Weather Service. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Hurricane Lenny 1989". BVIHurricane.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  9. ^ "AL14 Hurricane Jose (1999)" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  10. ^ Guiney, John L. (January 5, 1999). Preliminary Report Hurricane Georges 15 September – 01 October 1998 (updated September 2014) (pdf). National Hurricane Center (Report). NOAA. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  11. ^ Miles B. Lawrence (1996). "Hurricane Bertha Tropical Cyclone Report". National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
  12. ^ Rappaport, Edward N; National Hurricane Center (January 17, 1996). Hurricane Marilyn: September 12 - 22, 1995 (PDF) (Preliminary Report). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  13. ^ Miles B. Lawrence (January 8, 1996). "Hurricane Luis Preliminary Report" (PDF). National Hurricane Center. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  14. ^ Lawrence, Miles (November 15, 1989). Preliminary Report: Hurricane Hugo (PDF) (Report). National Hurricane Center. pp. 1–2, 7. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  15. ^ NOAA. "Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones: Major Hurricane Donna". The Weather Underground. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  16. ^ Unisys (1932). "1932 Unisys Archive". Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  17. ^ "Monthly Weather Review (June 1931)" (PDF). Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  18. ^ Monthly Weather Review (PDF) (Report). United States Weather Bureau. 1924. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  19. ^ "Deadly 1924 hurricane". BVI Guides. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  20. ^ "The 1924 Hurricane". Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Unisys tracking data for 1922". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Monthly Weather Review" (PDF). Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  23. ^ "The Hurricane of 1916". BVI Review. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  24. ^ Jose F. Partagas (1996). Year 1899 (PDF). Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. pp. 39–53. Retrieved May 22, 2013.
  25. ^ "Unisys 1894 season tracks". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  26. ^ "HURDAT Data for the 1889 Atlantic hurricane season". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  27. ^ 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 October 1, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  28. ^ José Fernández Partagás (2003). "Year 1866" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
  29. ^ Chris Landsea (2007). "Counting Atlantic Tropical Cyclones Back to 1900" (PDF). American Meteorological Society. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  30. ^ Harriet Greenberg, Douglas Greenberg (2008). British Virgin Islands: Alive!. Hunter Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 1588435075.
  31. ^ 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. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  32. ^ Dr James Lazell (2005). Island Fact and Theory in Nature. University of California Press. p. 316. ISBN 0520243528.