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  • Catherine

What is it Like to Experience a Tropical Storm on St. John?

Before I dive in, I want to express that the difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is just 1 mph between maximum sustained winds of up to 73 mph for a tropical storm and 74+ mph for a hurricane. 

So...What’s it like? Breezy. The wind whistles with tonality. The waves are enormous. However, you do not have to close up your hurricane shutters, and if you’re lucky enough to have ocean views, you’re blessed with an incredible view of the wind and rain working across the land and sea.

You do batten down your hatches so to speak: Porch furniture brought inside? Check. Gutters and storm drains clear? Check. Windows locked? Check. After a busy morning, you get to watch as the storm passes by.

I have guests leaving today (hours before Tropical Storm Dorian was to come through) and told them they could stay an extra night for free, but they took off this morning to try and catch their flight. Of course, I learned the passenger ferry off the island had shut down after they had already left. My guess is that right now they’re in a cozy Cruz Bay bar watching the storm from there. They know they have a place to stay if they return to me tonight so hopefully they are enjoying riding this out from wherever they may be.

I also have guests that are supposed to check in tonight. Their flight is so far not cancelled so we shall see if they arrive and if they do, I am ready to welcome them.

For now, until the storm passes (which should be by about 2: 30pm today) I get to look outside and be amazed. The winds at 60 mph are fierce, but the palm trees have incredible resilience. They bend and allow the wind to pass through them. We could learn a few things from palm trees when the going gets a little rough for us….

I hear a clatter and investigate. A screen has come loose and dropped to the floor. No worries. That window should be closed and so I do. I take the opportunity to clean the screen and put it back in place for the sun’s welcome and warm breezes tomorrow. I hear a drip and investigate. With this sort of flying wind and rain, there are bound to be a few little leaks in your perfect house. So, I find the leak and put a small bowl under it. And, I breathe...something else to look at more closely after the storm passes. We could also learn a few things from noticing the small leaks that enter into our lives….

Of course, the wind has knocked out the electricity in Coral Bay, but my solar system is working well. It’s running my fridges and freezer. While my guests enjoy fans, a/c, and microwaves, I enjoy the simplicity, and energy savings of living without these every day conveniences. 

The wind and rain are really blowing now. It is still 2 hours away from when the storm is supposed to pass over us and now I am beginning to be grateful that I brought in all of that porch furniture. There is a different sound to fierce rain and wind. It howls and pelts. My hanging, outdoor lights are swinging frantically. My windows are being abused. It is pure white outside.

For now, there is nothing to do but read a book and sip a cup of tea, or if you are inclined, a glass of wine. I always light a candle, too. It’s humbling to be surrounded by nature knowing there is nothing one can do to change the event. And so, I am grateful. My home is well built. I have friends, family, neighbors, and God. Oh yes, and my cat Lotti, who rode out Hurricane Irma with me. I am not alone.

If you ever want to potentially experience this sort of thing, book a stay in September. You may be rewarded. House of Open Arms is always ready to welcome you!

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