Everyone in the Caribbean watched with great interest as Hurricane Earl formed in the Eastern Atlantic at the end of August.  From the beginning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had it passing anywhere from 100-200 miles to the north of the BVI.  Despite this, the hurricane kept tracking to the West.  While still on the NHC track, it was disconcerting to see a fairly major storm heading right for the NE Caribbean.  The only comforting thought was that it was only predicted to be a strong Tropical Storm or relatively mild Category 1 hurricane.
In what, at the time, seemed to be an abundance of caution, some business and home owners put up Storm Shutters, but most did not.  On Monday, the 25th, we at Parts & Power prepared for what we thought would be a lot of rain and possible flooding.  At the last minute, we decided to put a recent shipment of Industrial generators inside and put up Storm Shutters.
Although Earl continued to track exactly along the NHC track, it built rapidly from a Storm to Cat 1 and then Cat 2.  We started to get some wind.  As the day dawned on Tues, the 30th, Earl was a Cat 4.  Obviously we had all underestimated Earl.  Hurricane force winds pummeled the island of Anegada which experienced heavy devastation.  On Tortola, 22 miles away, the winds seemed more selective.  West End was battered, with a majority of the fleet there either blown aground or sunk.  The North side of the island had patches running up the mountain that was reminiscent of a strip of bark being torn off a tree, with relatively unscathed sections on either side.  Road Harbour, although in the most protected area of the island, had 6 or 7 commercial vessels severely damaged or sunk.  Even the most conservative of mariners had not prepared for what Earl brought.  The difference seems to be on those vessels that remained manned and were able to deploy more anchors and motor into the winds.
In the end, Earl stayed pretty much right on the track the NHC predicted.  The Closest Point of Approach (CPA) to Tortola was about 140 miles by my calculations as I watched the eye pass to the North on Nexrad radar.  While at my house, which is totally exposed 360 degrees, we experienced winds that approached hurricane force, other people on the island recorded wind gusts of over 110 mph.  The large seas generated by the Storm caused the majority of the damage.
Utility current was lost throughout the country.  Some homes and businesses were without power for over a week.  Those whose generators had recently been serviced fared well.  All emergency calls both during the hurricane, as well as immediately following, came from customers who had not done the recommended Summer Maintenance.
The lesson learned was never to underestimate a Storm or Hurricane.  Hurricanes can and will do unpredictable things.  No one who boarded up, prepared their property or serviced their equipment regretted doing so.  The same can’t be said of those who did not.