Barbados’ biggest storms in the last 50 years

While many Caribbean islands often bear the brunt of powerful hurricanes, Barbados tends to be spared any widespread devastation. In fact, the last storm that is retained in local memory as having a catastrophic impact was Hurricane Janet in 1955. Passing south of the island as a Category 3 hurricane on September 22, data from the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) indicated that Janet killed an estimated 32 people, destroyed 8 100 homes and left 20,000 homeless.

Houses blown across the road by the angry winds of Hurricane Janet prevented free passage to pedestrians and vehicles of all kinds. (Source: The National Archives UK)

However, while Barbados has not since seen devastation on that level, it has experienced some rough encounters with Mother Nature. In fact, weather systems have not even had to reach hurricane strength to inflict significant damage.

Here is a look at some major storms to impact Barbados since Janet:

Tropical Storm Kirk (September 27, 2018)

TS Kirk brought over 10 inches of rainfall, causing significant flooding and power outages in Barbados. Several people had to be rescued from their homes.

Tropical Storm Harvey (August 17, 2017)

High winds and heavy rains damaged roofs and caused extensive flooding, particularly in the north of the island. One house was washed off its foundation, while rising waters entered homes and forced some people to evacuate. Electricity outages affected several parishes across the island.

The north of the island experienced significant flooding. Pictured are floodwaters in Speightstown, St. Peter caused by the heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017.

Tropical Storm Tomas (October 30, 2010)

US$18.5 million was the cost to the Government of Barbados to repair the over 1,000 homes that were damaged in the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas. The south-central areas of the island were most impacted, with roofs being ripped off, trees blow down and crops destroyed.

Hurricane Ivan (September 7, 2004)

What stands out for many residents was that Barbados was expected to receive a direct hit, but at the eleventh hour, the storm changed course and instead went onto cause widespread devastation in Grenada. Nonetheless, in Barbados at least one death was attributed to Hurricane Ivan, which caused an estimated US$5 million in damage. Over 500 houses sustained minor to major damage, with more than 175 being completely destroyed. Many homes lost their roofs, trees were blown down and coastal roads were damaged by storm surge.

Tropical Storm Lili (September 22, 2002)

According to CDERA (now CDEMA), St. Andrew, St. Philip, St. Lucy and Christ Church were the parishes that were mainly affected. Over 400 housing units were damaged, and there were 43 reports of fallen trees and utility poles resulting in power outages and disruption in telephone service in many areas. Water supply was also interrupted in some area due to a lack of electricity to operate the pumps. There were also damages to the agricultural sector, particularly to banana crops and poultry farms. Damages were estimated at nearly US$200,000.

Hurricane Allen (August 4, 1980)

Passing north of Barbados, Allen destroyed 35 homes and damaged more than 200. Some sources indicated that preliminary damage was estimated to be US$1.5 million.

Hurricane Edith (September 24, 1963)

Edith brought between 7–9 inches of rain to the island and damages totalled US$145,000.