Celebrating the End of Hurricane Season
~ Hurricane Thanksgiving ~
Ahoy! And welcome aboard!
I’m Kristie, lead Pirate of Stormy Pirates Charters, and in each Pirate Tales blog, I or one of our crew members will be sharing a bit of what it’s like to live in the Virgin Islands as well as some helpful information to make your trip to the islands more enjoyable. Let’s get started.
A Thanksgiving Ritual for October
Most people think of November as being the month for celebrating Thanksgiving, but in the Virgin Islands, we start celebrating even earlier. Every year on October 25th, Virgin Islanders observe Hurricane Thanksgiving. It’s a day of gathering and celebrating the safe passage through another hurricane season. The holiday dates back to 1726 (way before there even was a United States!), when the Danish were still in possession of the island. Philip Dietrichs at that time led special church services to give thanks that his town wasn’t destroyed by a hurricane. The ritual became tradition over the years and is still celebrated today. (can we add something about how it’s celebrated? Church services? No government offices open? Special drinks served?)
A Little Hurricane History
A hurricane is described as: a storm with violent wind, in particular a tropical cyclone in the Caribbean. The wind force is equal to or exceeding 74 mph.
Winds less than 39 mph are called tropical depressions. Winds that range between 39 – 73 mph are called tropical storms, and hurricanes have winds 74 mph or greater.
Hurricanes are broken down into 5 Categories;
Cat 1 = wind speeds of 74 – 95 mph
Cat 2 = wind speeds of 96 – 110 mph
Cat 3 = wind speeds of 111 – 129 mph
Cat 4 = wind speeds of 130 – 156 mph
Cat 5 = wind speeds over 156 mph
Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th, but the height of storm season runs from late August through the end of September.
Hurricanes are common to the Virgin Islands and over the years there have been several that caused major damage.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit with the eyewall passing just south of St. Croix. It was the first hurricane to hit in over 50 years that caused a lot of damage, especially on St. Croix.
In 1995, Hurricane Luis passed just northeast of Anegada as a Category 4 hurricane and 9 days later, Hurricane Marilyn, a strong Cat 2 hurricane, arrived with the eyewall passing over St. Thomas. The storm caused major damage and was talked about for years to come. It was during this hurricane that the statue known as Christ of the Caribbean (located on Peace Hill on St. John) was destroyed.
Hurricane Bertha passed through the region in 1996 as a Cat 1 storm causing minor damage, followed by Hurricane Lenny (Wrong Way Lenny) in 1999, known for its surprising turn to the southwest and its rapid formation on the southern side of St. Croix.
The storm of all storms hit on September 6, 2017, when the infamous Irma, also known as the Cape verde Storm slammed into St. Thomas and St. John with sustained winds estimated to be over 200 mph and gusts well over 225mph around 2pm. (Storms that form over the Cape Verde Islands typically are the worst because there is so much warm water to strengthen the system as it crosses the Atlantic Ocean.) Irma was the first-ever Cat 5 hurricane to hit the Virgin Islands and its destruction was immense. Only 14 days later Maria hit. Power would not be restored to the islands for over 3 months.
Thankfully, the 2023 hurricane season was mild and no major hurricanes passed over the Virgin Islands, which is a great reason to give thanks and celebrate – maybe with your favorite rum drink and a relaxing day on the water!
New Season, New Adventures
We’re all grateful that we’ve survived another hurricane season without significant storms or damage, which also means we’re eagerly anticipating the start of another tourist season. This year we have all the popular boat days of the past few years on the schedule as well as a few new additions. Our Virgin Gorda – ALL DAY option will be a popular trip for guests who want to experience a full day on the island of Virgin Gorda.
This year we will add a new boat and we have opened a “Boat Day Boutique” where our guests can purchase anything they may need for a boat day. More to come on these 2 exciting additions.
End Notes: If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends. Then visit our website and book a boat day with Stormy Pirates Charters – we’ll put the gang plank down and escort you in style.