Heavily flowing ghut. Photo: Department of Disaster Management
ROAD TOWN, BVI -- A trough that brought heavy downpours and thunderstorms to the British Virgin Islands dumped over five inches of rain on the territory from May 8 to 10.
The network of weather stations monitored by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) show the largest amount of rainfall as 5.11 inches.
When comparing 2013, the data show that the BVI experienced a similar heavy downpour during the same period in May last year. The rainfall total for the same three-day period was 3.84 inches, with the total for May 2013 being 9.36 inches. Less than halfway into this month, the total rainfall for May is already at 7.88 inches.
The majority of last week’s rainfall occurred on Saturday and the DDM received several reports of damage and flooding.
A DDM team led by director Sharleen DaBreo immediately embarked on an island-wide assessment.
“During a lull in the rainfall, a team of five staff members and one volunteer visited all of the affected areas on Tortola. We witnessed various levels of impact including flooding in low-lying areas, fallen rocks in the hillsides, a fallen rock wall, significant sedimentation in bays and harbours, heavily flowing ghuts and debris from overflowing drains on some roadways,” DaBreo stated.
Commenting on the overall event and the rainfall totals, DaBreo said, “There are evident changes in rainfall patterns since we have been collecting data and periods when we would have seen heavy rains in the past are now very dry. We are experiencing impacts from the passage of more troughs than storm events. A similar trough event impacted St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica in December last year, resulting in the loss of lives and millions of dollars in damage.”
The recent trough came weeks before the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season forcing an immediate response by the Public Works Department to clear roadways and ensure that ghuts were flowing freely.