I have experienced two Hurricanes on Antigua - Jose in October and Lenny in November 1999. Jose began in earnest when the hairdresser called one Tuesday morning to tell me that my appointment at 3 pm that same day was cancelled - "we're closing early today".

Hurricane Jose on 20 Oct 1999, 18.45 UTC.
Antigua is the prominent green spot almost exactly
in the center of the image, on the lower right edge
of the magenta "cloud". Enlarge
By that time, most buildings in St. John's were protected with hurricane shutters - in their simplest form, wooden boards nailed in front of doors and windows, but sometimes also rather sophisticated systems made from metal. All shops closed (the supermarket was completely sold out anyway). It began to rain, and that was it for most of Tuesday. The winds picked up and by nightfall they were strong enough for me to avoid going outside for fear of being moved involuntarily. (The reported wind speeds were about 130 mph). Anyway, I was busy fending off rainwater being driven through various windows by the wind. First our leased Internet line died, later the telephone, and even later the public power grid went down. Our houses had a generator which duly took over, but only until its diesel tank was empty - then it also died, slowly and with strange noises.

Speaking of noises - the night was strange with all that rain hammering onto our roof (which was made from wood and covered with tin, excellent in amplifying the sound).

I spent all of Wednesday in bed. It wasn't really a day anyway - more like dawn slowly changing into dusk. Around noon, there were some hours of relatively calm weather with no rain and funny coloured clouds in the sky - the eye of the storm, probably, because it got worse again after that. Thursday was almost normal again, so I went to work; there were some trees on the road, and it took some days for the power to come back (and months for certain traffic lights to resume operation), but the worst was over. The damage wasn't too big overall, although quite a number of people lost their homes and some their lives.

It seems that after a hurricane, all the national phone company employees have to help to clean up the mess - remove trees from roads, repair traffic lights etc. Funny! (Not for them of course.)

A split road at Dickenson Bay after
Hurricane Lenny (Photo: Alan B. Scholl)
Hurricane Lenny didn't feel as strong as Jose (I didn't have to fight the water coming through the windows), but it lasted longer. Lenny was exceptional because it moved in a direction different from most other Hurricanes, and Lenny didn't hit Antigua directly, but instead hovered somewhere near St. Maarten for a few days, bringing a lot of rain to the otherwise rather dry island of Antigua.

During and after Lenny, some roads were unusable because you simply couldn't see them under all the mud and water. Others were partially swept away, and although Lenny didn't cause as much direct damage as Jose, the cleaning up seemed to take forever.


Jose rips off roofs in Antigua (USA Today)
Jose Diary from Antigua (Antigua Today)
Hurricane Lenny Index (USA Today)
Lenny Diary from Antigua (Antigua Today)
Spectacular Hurricane Movies

  Frederik Ramm, 2001-11-15