Hurricane Season on St. John
For several decades before Hurricanes, Hugo and Marilyn, Virgin Islanders didn’t think too much about hurricanes, even during hurricane season. This was probably due to the fact that there hadn’t been a major hurricane for so long. I remember reading in a tourist pamphlet when I first arrived in 1969 that “the Virgin Islands were situated so far north of the hurricane belt that the islands were rarely visited by these fierce Atlantic storms. Imagine, Foxy held his famous Wooden Boat Race on Labor Day weekend. It would be totally unheard of today to schedule any event involving sailing vessels right in the middle of the hurricane season.
But now we do think about it and for just about everyone on St. John, hurricane season means financial lean times.
I like to look at the bright side, however, and I actually welcome the season, providing there are no storms. Why is this?
To begin with, the water is warm. This means a lot to me. I love to swim and snorkel, but I just get too cold during the winter. Plus, there are no ground seas in the summer, providing a storm system doesn’t pass close to us on the north, like Hurricane Earl did this year. Ground seas are ocean swells generated by low pressure systems and storms in the North Atlantic that break when they come into contact with the north facing coastlines of the islands. These seas churn up the water reducing the visibility when snorkeling.
The hurricane season tends to bring days when the seas are flat calm, great for small power boats like mine. I can get to Virgin Gorda or even Anegada quite easily on these days. Moreover, swimming and snorkeling are a delight in these warm, mirror-flat waters.
But what I like best about the season is knowing just about everyone I see in town, out on the road, on the beaches and even on hikes. Tourists are few and far between and life is just more “Islandy.”
(“September Remember, October All Over,” Island Saying)