Christopher Columbus and January Hurricanes

1715 Hurricane sinks Spanish Treasure Ships

A post by Peter Jordens:

In an article titled ‘“This Is Not a Hurricane”: A Rare Occurrence’ in the weekend supplement (Ñapa) of the Amigoe, on page 6 of the May 11, 2019 paper edition, Dr. Jules van Bochove, a retired Surinamese eye doctor, writes about having experienced a rare hurricane in the month of January 1955 when he was stationed on the island of St. Eustatius as government physician. Here are quoted and paraphrased excerpts, translated from the Dutch original.

Dr. Van Bochove starts his account by referring to Christopher Columbus, who, “during one of his voyages of discovery in the Caribbean region circa 1500, apparently wrote in his diary that he had ended up in a hurricane. People never believed him and accused him of being inebriated while recording this. It was deemed impossible.”

Dr. Van Bochove writes that when in the morning of Sunday, January 2, 1955, the people of St. Eustatius noticed a fierce sea and strong wind, they did not think of a hurricane. After all, the popular saying about hurricanes was: “August a Must. September Remember. October All Over.” The Weather Bureau in Miami, Florida, initially also reassured radio listeners: “This is not a hurricane.” But by midday the Bureau warned: “This is a hurricane!” Dr. Van Bochove writes that “St. Eustatius experienced strong winds and heavy rain. Tree branches broke off and roof tiles were blown away, but fortunately there were no personal accidents. More than four centuries after Columbus had written in his diary about a January hurricane, the phenomenon became a reality and he was proven right.”

January 2, 1955 was a memorable day for Dr. Van Bochove not only because of Hurricane Alice, but also because his wife, who had remained behind pregnant in Suriname, gave birth to their son Roy Michael van Bochove on that same day.

According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Alice developed on December 30, 1954, passed through the Leeward Islands as a hurricane on January 2, 1955, and dissipated on January 6. Saba and Anguilla were affected the most.

97% of all Atlantic tropical cyclones occur within the official Atlantic hurricane season which is between June 1 and November 30. Between 1851 and 2019, the Caribbean region experienced only three hurricanes (1938, 1955 and 2016) and two tropical storms (1951 and 2006) in the month of January.

For more on Hurricane Alice and other off-season hurricanes, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Alice_(December_1954) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_off-season_Atlantic_hurricanes

It appears that Christopher Columbus had (credible) encounters with at least two hurricanes: in July 1494 and June 1502. See https://noaahrd.wordpress.com/tag/christopher-columbus-hurricane

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