When you live on an island in the Caribbean, you no longer measure time according to the four seasons. For the most part, island weather stays consistent year-round: temperatures in the low 80s, mostly sunny, with a daily rain shower that lasts no more than twenty minutes. If you wanted to get really picky about it though, you could probably divide your island year into three distinct seasons: Hot, Hotter, and Hurricane Season.
With nearly two years of island living under my belt, I’ve just experienced my first brush with nasty tropical weather. Tropical Storm Bertha wound up being pretty mild – mostly, a good excuse to hoard cans of Spaghetti-O’s and spend the day on the couch – but getting ready for the impending storm got me thinking about some hurricane essentials often omitted by the more traditional preparation checklists. Here’s your foolproof guide to surviving – and maybe even enjoying! – your tropical storm or hurricane experience on your island.
DO: Enjoy the breeze while you can
Be sure to spend some time on your porch or patio before the storm gets too intense. When else can you enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors without the constant buzz of mosquitoes in your ears?
DO: Stock up on booze
This goes without saying, right? But select your libations wisely! You don’t want to be showing off your margarita-making skills just as the power goes out and your blender grinds to a halt. And no amount of alcohol is going to cover up the taste of spoiled milk or cream, so skip the White Russians. And who wants to end the storm with a dark refrigerator full of skunked beer? Keep it simple, and stick to low-maintenance options like rum and juice or vodka and soda. Don’t forget the ice!
DON’T: Miss the rare opportunity to break out the cold weather clothing
Remember those clothing items you naively brought with you when you moved to the rock? The long-sleeved shirt you packed “in case it gets chilly at night” or the flannel pants you just couldn’t bear to leave behind? They’ve been stowed away at the back of your closet since you got here, gathering dust and making only the occasional appearance for flights back to the mainland. But as the rain squalls begin and the wind starts howling, take advantage of this brief window of opportunity to get cozy in that favorite sweatshirt or pair of sweatpants. (But not both. It’s a hurricane, not a blizzard.)
DO: Prepare some non-electronic forms of entertainment
You’ve been searching for just the right Instagram filter for your photos of the ominous clouds, and had grand plans of live-tweeting the hurricane for everyone following along back home. You’ve got a DVR full of Nashville and Grey’s Anatomy just waiting for a rainy day of binge-watching. But be sure you’ve also got some backup entertainment ready for the inevitable power outage, or you’ll be awfully bored silly when all the screens go dark. Think cards, board games, the latest guilty-pleasure vampire novel, etc. (If all else fails, look to your roommate for entertainment. Roaring thunder, flickering candlelight… sounds like a recipe for romance to me!)
DO: Buy yourself a battery-operated fan
As the wind ramps up and you’re forced to close the windows against the blowing rain, it’s going to get very stuffy, very quickly. (This is probably a good time to return the winter clothes to the closet. It was fun while it lasted.)
DO: Make contingency plans for bathroom necessities
For many island homes, a power outage also means a water outage. Brainstorm how you’ll get the toilet flushed and the teeth brushed in the likely event that you lose power. (This is especially true if you hope to pass the time with some hurricane lovin’. Nothing kills the mood faster than saying, Hey hun, where am I supposed to dump this bucket? )
DON’T: Let your guard down after the storm
You’ve made it through your first big island storm – congratulations! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’re getting ready to pack away those flashlights and spare batteries until the next storm blows through. Not so fast, island lady. We never lost power during Bertha, but we did experience four days of rolling blackouts immediately afterwards. Keep those candles handy! Better yet, just leave them out year-round – think of them as functional island décor.
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What are your personal do’s and don’t’s for thriving through a storm on your rock?