Weather in Antigua, tree frog-tastic, and my changing view

Tree frog, Antigua

It is fitting in the wake of hurricane ‘Danny’ to write a note about the weather here.

I am not sure if I was more worried about the hurricane coming or the spiders that apparently emerge after heavy rainfall.

Hurricane ‘Danny’ was coming directly towards us in Antigua and Barbuda for more than a week. We watched and waited. It appeared as a tropical storm and then as a hurricane. It went from category 1 to category 3. All reports were indicating that it would most likely dissipate before it made it here. However on the eve of its arrival, everybody got ready for the worst.

Hurricane preparations, Antigua
Hurricane preparations, Antigua

We found the storm boards and tied down the outside furniture. My husband scoured the island for a spare LPG gas bottle but there was none to be found. 2 stray dogs appeared and we gave them food and water. 1 dog stayed and when the rain came at 9pm, I took him inside – where he promptly made himself completely at home in the children’s room. The tree frogs sang like crazy all night and I heard the wild donkeys hee-haw down the road as they took shelter.

Tree frogs have come as somewhat of a surprise to me. I lived in the tropics of Australia years ago, yet I had completely forgotten about these little fellows. I don’t mean, ‘forgotten in a way that my memory could be jolted again’ either. This is as if I never knew. Shortly after I arrived here and had recovered from minor jet-lag, I began to have great difficulty going to sleep. The squeaking outside my bedroom window, like a squeaky wheel that is turning constantly, pervaded my senses. I went outside to clatter around and scare the ‘bird’ away, but to no avail. Then it’s family joined in with the chorus. I spoke with my friends who have lived here not that much longer than us. We berated these creatures. How could we ever sleep again in this country? I googled the ‘squeaking bird’. Aha! I am not alone. There are forums, you know. I discovered that the birds are frogs. So I went outside straight after dinner on a frog hunt – finding this miniscule creature making such a pelting song took only a few minutes and I had a real Discovey channel moment. I even filmed it singing because that is the kind of geek that I am. For anyone that does not know what I am talking about, here you go:

During the hurricane preparations, we fired up the generator to check that it was all in good working order. And there, hiding inside the generator house was this little guy, who I suspect is our night-time singer.

Tree frog, Antigua
Tree frog, Antigua

‘Danny’ the hurricane did lose momentum before it got here and it was downgraded to a tropical storm. I went to bed with the louvers open and woke up an hour later with rain splashing on my face. Yippee! It’s raining! were my first thoughts. I subsequently closed everything up and mopped the floor. The rest was uneventful. It has been the first cloudy day since we arrived almost 2 months ago. The children were so excited about the back-up supplies that they had been involved in purchasing, that they had tinned sweetcorn and spaghetti hoops for breakfast, followed by a Star Wars battle with the pillar candles.

Then ‘Erika’ was born. We are watching and waiting as she swirls towards these leeward islands.

Yes, it is officially hurricane season here from June 1st to November 30th.

Here are some other fun facts(!) about the climate in Antigua: lying at approximately 17 degrees North of the equator, the average year round temperature is about 80 degrees F (27 degrees C), with the hottest month being August and the coolest is January (by one or two degrees only). The main rainfall is during September, October and November, although the last 2 years have recorded a noticeable drought in the Caribbean.

Basically it is hot and humid all year around. It is not unbearably hot, however, as there is a gorgeous sea breeze all the time. When it is hot, it serves as a good reminder for your skin that you are near the equator and should stay inside between 11am and 3pm reading a good book (I am reading The Black Count by Tom Reiss at the moment) or playing Backgammon or Rummikub with a nice cold Carib beer. Just an idea.

As there has been some stormy weather around us during recent days, I have spent more time than normal at ‘home’. When I am here I spend a lot of time looking at the view. The changing colours never cease to amaze me. There is something incredible about the light over the ocean that lures me in and intoxicates me. The house looks south-easterly, with nothing but the Atlantic Ocean laying out before me. I like that. It reminds me of the west coast of Ireland and the mighty Atlantic crashing on the shores.

The sea is a little different here than in Ireland, however. It lacks the passion and ferocity of Ireland. It lacks the poetry. It does have tropical fish though. And I daresay it is a few degrees warmer here.

I can see the weather systems from the deck. As the circles of low and high pressure appear on weather maps, and Saharan dust storms cloud the view, the horizon lays it out before me. The rain showers appear like walls of water drifting towards me. The heavy low pressure moves languidly by and leaves gusts of wind that stick the clothes hanging on the line to the fence.

Sunny day
Sunny day
Saharan sand day?
Saharan sand day?
Rain coming
Rain coming
Strange clouds pre-Danny
Strange clouds pre ‘Danny’

The weather in the islands comes and goes with great haste. The rain showers come and within minutes they are gone and the sun is beating down and drying the ground. It is romantic and crazy and it sings with the zest of the Caribbean, just like the frogs.

Bisous and Big Ups from stormy Antigua x.

PS. For anyone that would like to follow the weather here are some links:

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