If you happen to be caught on St Barts with a hurricane please read this section entirely.
The Hurricane season is generally thought to be from August to October. There have been hurricanes even in January but that is a very rare event.
YOU WILL BE VERY SAFE IF YOU FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS. NO NEED TO PANIC!
After the 2017 hurricane - class 5 (it should be a 6 really), we will not allow any client to stay in the villa. We will not be responsible for any client who will not move to a designated safe place. The villa must be closed. There may be no Internet, no TV, no A/C, as the Mains electricity may be turned off. It was left on during Hurricane Irma and this ruined the Spa and other electrical equipment.
If you came through either “Ici et La” or “Marla”, call them if you are concerned.
What we can't do: Move you to other accommodation or give you a refund (act of God !).
There are special shelters in designated buildings. Make your enquiries before the Red Alert.
You should have plenty of warning and time to find shelter.
Now for the practicalities…
Listen to the radio or Internet for information and instructions. If a hurricane is coming follow the warnings colours (see just below)
INTERNET radio is best as the Sony ampli has poor radio aerials.
For the warning levels
Go to the Collectivity of St Barthelemy’s website for warning details. http://www.comstbarth.fr
Radio by Internet - Radio St Barth.com/players-9
Use the battery radio only if the electricity has been cut off.
Radio St Barts 100.7 FM also on Internet
Radio Transat 95.5 FM also on Internet
and/or follow the hurricane’s progress HERE on the Internet.
Or GOOGLE: NHC (National Hurricane Centre)
There is a very good weather website HERE - Windy
PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE WARNINGS AND FOUR MAIN LEVELS OF ALERTS:
Yellow alert – The hurricane is expected soon – You can still leave the island.
Orange alert – The hurricane is imminent - You can no longer leave the island. The shops and the administrative buildings are now closed. You must go to your designated public shelter.
Red alert - You should now be inside the designated shelter. Listen to Radio St Barth for instructions.
Violet alert – The hurricane is here, (if you haven’t noticed!) YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO GO OUTSIDE BECAUSE:
The emergency services will not respond.
During the period Violet you are must stay inside.
During the Violet alert – It can happen (and it did with Earl, Gonzalo and Irma) that the eye of the hurricane passes over St Barts. You may think that the storm has abated because the wind has dropped. This calm period can last several minutes or even longer but as the eye passes, the winds will pick up from the opposite direction and fast. Wherever you are do not go out during this time.
Things like fridges or metal roof sheets can be flying around. They are mortal.
The end of the alert will be given over the radio.
Be careful as there are 2 possibilities:
Grey alert – You can now go outside and the danger is over.
Orange alert - You can now go outside but the hurricane has turned around and is heading back. (As did Louis in 1965)
We will not be responsible if you fail to go to a designated safe place
So what’s it like? : We were here for EARL, which passed as a level 3 Hurricane with winds of up to 200 kph and 7 meter waves. Here the damage was to the foliage. The leaves and branches were everywhere but no structural damage occurred to the villa. We had to clean the villa walls with the Karcher immediately. If we had left it till later they would be stuck firm.
The pool was full of leaves but was soon cleared with the net.
The pool cleaners were at the villa very quickly to get it all cleared up properly.
We saw one idiot leave Gustavia harbour in his Catamaran and sail past us to Grand Colombier. He left at about 6pm just as the order not to put to sea had been implemented. He was fished from the sea and his Catamaran was in a 1000 pieces on the beach.
We were confined 20 hours in the lounge!
We were also here for Gonzalo in 2014. It arrived on the eastern side of the island as a tropical storm but actually made landfall as a category 2 hurricane and caught everyone by surprise. It left as a category 3. We were ready by early afternoon and the winds got too strong by about 5pm. When the eye came over Eric came down to see us, had a lobster that Anne-Marie had prepared and went back as the eye passed and the wind picked up again. Again no major damage on the island and the clearing up was done brilliantly by all concerned.
Then came Irma! The strongest ever Atlantic hurricane with gusts of 460 kilometres per hour. (about 290 mph). Earthquake activity was recorded on the island but it was the force of the wind shaking everything, trees, villas etc. We were relatively lucky but still suffered lots of damage. The stories of people’s lucky escapes convinced us that no one should remain in the villa during one. Hurricanes are fickle things and change speed and direction without warning.
The villa still has a few scars from the 2017 hurricane and we apologise for that. I do not think anyone realised the amount of work that was needed. Hopefully all will be rectified by your next visit !