Home | Barbuda is a wildlife paradise | nature tourism | ancient wells… and hurricanes
coconuts
A beach flower
Sea grapes
A 'bread-and-cheese' plant

Barbuda’s climate is sub-tropical with a temperature range from 18°C to 45°C. Rainfall is seasonal, usually with an average of under 100 cm per year. Barbuda is very flat and very dry. There are no rivers, streams or lakes but fortunately underground water is found in reasonable quantities and water is obtained from wells – some newly built, and others that were built during slavery but which are still maintained today. This Barbuda wells study describes the importance of well water to our population.

Most households collect (free) rainwater for drinking and household use in cisterns and black tanks. There is a newly operational de-salination plant which provides paid-for, metred water to those within reach of the village pipes.

castle well
One of the old wells

Vegetation tends to be scrubby woodland, with wattles cut and used for fencing and regular charcoal production (both pictured below) on the island. There are very few trees over ten metres except for tamarind and mango trees, but numerous drought-tolerant cacti and succulents everywhere. Barbudans clear plots of land outside the village to grow fruit and vegetables communally, including peas and beans, corn, sweet potato, yams, melons, bananas and plantain, and fruit trees such as mango, sugar-apple, pomegranite, soursop and guava. In Codrington village when the weather has been good to us there are colourful displays of hibiscus, pride of barbados, lady of the night, bouganvillia and many other plants and flowers as Barbudans tend their gardens.

Cutting wattle for fencing or fishpots

alternative energy for Barbuda

A study carried out as long ago as 2002 by Richard Bicknell, at that time a student at the Institute of Energy at De Montfort University in Leicester, explored the possibility of an alternative energy project for Barbuda. Since then we have waited and finally been rewarded with a new plant for solar energy, opening soon.

hurricanes

Statistically September has produced the most dangerous storms for Barbuda with more direct hits here in that month, as tropical waves come lower off the African coast straight towards us. Hurricane Irma below was no exception – hitting Barbuda on September 5/6th 2017 – it was described by the rest of the world as a ‘super-storm’ and was the worst Category 4 Atlantic storm (the highest category) in living memory.

It devastated every home and business on Barbuda and forced the evacuation of the whole island to Antigua (luckily Irma had not hit Antigua at all) In the aftermath of this disaster, the struggle to be allowed to return to Barbuda began. It took many weeks to get transport, aid and in some cases it took over two years to get electricity back. Even now some people are still re-building and using tents. Many Barbudans have said the immediate aftermath of the hurricane including the compulsory evacuation and the extended, long-overdue permission to return to salvage and repair our homes was worse for the island than the hurricane itself.

The worst hurricane prior to this was 22 years before – Hurricane Luis – which was a Category 4 while it was over Barbuda in September 1995. This time it hit both islands and again the aftermath was made worse by the lack of interest in Barbuda from the Antigua government at the time.

We have had many small hurricanes and big tropical storms that bring rain, flooding, wind damage and of course affects our tourism. These terribly destructive storms are still rare, although if you are travelling at any time during the long hurricane season – which starts in June and ends in November – be prepared for disruption on a large scale if we are in the path of any storm. There is a high level of unpredictability in tropical storm and hurricane movement, size and speed. The very high winds, dangerous seas, flooding and loss of essential services such as transport and electricity may last several months, if not years.

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