Sunday, August 26, 2007

How it happened

Just for posterity, here's how Hurricane Dean came and went.

Sunday 12th August: Tropical Depression 4 forms at 12N and 31W and though it's way out in the Atlantic, it is forecast to slowly strengthen and head in our direction. I do my first panic buying.

Monday 13th - Wednesday 15th: TD4 becomes Tropical Storm Dean. Given it's westerly speed (a quick 20MPH) I work out it'll pass over us Friday morning. The forecast path has it a little south of us, but it will be a hurricane by the time it reaches us.

Thursday 16th: We're now in a Hurricane Warning and people are sent home from work from the afternoon onwards. It's announced the power will be cut at midnight, and water will go from around 10pm. Otherwise, it's a normal morning in town.

Friday 17th: By 6am the winds & rain wake me. I debate staying in bed, but decide to give the house a once-over. I am freaked out to look out of the front window and see the big nutmeg trees all toppled over. I decide its time to get serious so I dress fully including raincoat, and make sure my essentials bag (camera, change of clothes, passport etc) is very close at hand.

I turn my small radio on to listen to local radio; the Roseau river is flooding, but specific facts are otherwise hard to come by.

Noted the huge drop in pressure whenever I dared open the front door to venture out.

Amazingly, the land lines are all working, but the cell service is 'Emergency Only'. I wonder how that will help.

6pm: It finally stops raining enough to think about venturing out to see what's going on in the neighbourhood. Branches down all over the road. Meet guys with chainsaws going to clear trees. See a high-tension power line down across the road a little up the hill; it could be some time before we get electricity back. Word is there are landslides below the village.

Saturday 18th: Grey, overcast, but generally dry. I take my first drive out of the village. Pass some small landslides that have been cleared. The breadfruit trees along the road are decimated. Stunned to see evidence of how high the Roseau river had been. The 7-11 shows bare sports on the shelves where the Crix and muesli had been. Town otherwise calm, electricity has been restored at least in the Roseau area.

In the garden, most of the fruits - avocados, grapefruit - have been blown off the trees.

Tuesday: Water comes back on. A proper shower, even if cold, is a treat!

Wednesday evening: the power is back! Astounded to turn on the TV and find Marpin bright & clear! I celebrate with a cold can of Guinness.

Final stats:
Sadly, two people died on Friday
Max winds in Roseau: 78MPH
My rain gauge overfilled, so it was 120mm+
Damage: $EC90 million.

Many thanks for all the support!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Returning to normal

yellow warbler
Originally uploaded by Steve_Mc
A week after Dean, I see the first Broad-winged Hawk since the storm. The smallest of birds - the hummingbirds, the Yellow Warbler - and the larger ones - heron, flycatcher, ani - were all back in evidence soon after the storm had passed. But the magnificent Hawk took it's time.

Actually, it was seeing a postman on Monday this week that I knew we were back to normal here ;)

Hurricane Tips

A week after Dean. The season is not yet at its peak. My limited internet access this last week has always started by looking at the Atlantic satellite image every day.

A friend has some good tips for handling a storm here.

I'd add:

1) If you've got a generator, make sure it's working
2) Unplug and bag all your computer equipment/electricals, and put somewhere safe - ideally off the floor but under a desk/table
3) Save & store all the water you can, esp. drinking water.
4) make sure the generator is working
5) charge all your rechargeable batteries, inc. your cell phone. The electricity is always shut off just before the storm, and you can count on it not coming back for a couple of days. Even as of today there are still areas without.

We were lucky to have had a full five days warning of Dean's arrival.

Storm chaser loves Dominica!

I feel honoured that a professional hurricane chaser came to Dominica... and loved it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dean +5

3pm - cell service restored.

7pm - electricity finally came back on.

10pm - a can of cold Draught Guinness was had.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unsung Heros of Dean

A big two thumbs up (fuck it, how about 4 thumbs up!) to some of the unsung heroes of Hurricane Dean's passage through Dominica - all the guys with chain saws who got out there the same day to start the process of clearing up. I was walking through the village on Saturday evening and met one guy with a bunch of kids following him down the road, like a scene from the Pied Piper of Hamlyn.

Dean +4

Ah the bliss - water was turned back on yesterday. Still no power though.

After extensive analysis, here's my list of Top Fruit Trees That'll Weather A Hurricane:
Mango - sturdy as hell
Grapefruit - just loses all it's fruit
Avaocado - ditto

Top Fruit Trees That Fall Over
Breadfruit - it's the gangly basketball player on stilts of the lot, top heavy too!
Nutmeg - sadly, a featherweight
And if banana was a tree, it would be number one. Fortunately, in 12 weeks or so, they'll be back.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dean aftermath, continued...

3 days after Dean hit, still no water or electricity, though I was heartened to look across the valley to Eggleston last night and see street lights on.

Basically, it's like the island has been pruned. All the old trees, dead leaves etc. have been stripped. This does have the benefit of opening up more views where before there was no vista.

Town's back to normal - business as usual today.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Dean aftermath in Dominica

Hurricane Dean aftermath
Originally uploaded by Steve McCabe
A quick post because power is still off. Hurricane Dean really took a good whack at us; I took a quick trip into Roseau earlier today and was astonished by what I saw; lots of big trees felled (and lots of people walking around with breadfruit under their arms!), and the evidence that the Roseau river was a raging torrent. At last though the sun is out. All we need now is electricity...!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Out in the village

I spent the afternoon preparing in the house, but on my daily bike ride through the village you could see people were taking Hurricane Dean seriously, boarding up windows.

Up at the top of the hill, the gusts of wind hinted at what is to come.

The water will be cut at 10pm, and the electricity will be cut around midnight.

2pm status on Dean

The 2pm advisory has Hurricane Dean strengthening further, but staying on a westerly track, towards Martinique.

I expect the water to be turned off early evening, then the power late evening, so I'm filling up buckets, and bagging all my computer equipment. Weather's fine, slightly gusty winds but generally sunny.

Hurricane Dean due tonight

Dean will be passing over us around 6am on Friday. We'll start to feel the winds from midnight tonight.

Hurricane Dean

The system I seem to have been watching for ages is now Hurricane Dean. It's got a better shape this morning. Couple of things in our favour - it's forecast to pass somewhat south of us - right over Martinique. Also, more of the system is to the south of us, and it's moving fast - over 20 MPH - so it'll be past us soon! The pressure though has dropped to 987 mb, so it's strengthening rapidly. It's due to pass over us. We'll start to see it within 24 hours.

Best site for info:

The usual preparations are being made. Store lots of water, buy lots of canned food. 'Crix & Kubuli' or even 'Beer and Oysters' in some cases.

As Michael Caine said, 'You, you and you stay calm, the rest of you panic'.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Where are the McCabes

Found this today; the distribution of McCabes in the mainland UK. See, I said we're from Scotland!

No surprise that there's also a concentration in the north-west, but there's also a few in Cornwall. And 2 more I know in Devon ;)

More at

Listening to: Sting - If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Look out for the tail

Like a wounded crocodile (well not really), it's the tail end of a tropical weather system that you often have to look out for. AL99, barely a wave as it crosses us and heads into the Caribbean, has brought thunder, dark dark skies and occasional heavy showers. When the main part passed over yesterday, it was mostly blue skies and showers...

Now playing: Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets The Rockers
via FoxyTunes