When Hurricane Irma hit the Leeward Islands in September, 2017, as a Category 5 hurricane, most personal and government weather stations were quickly knocked out of service. But one, a Davis Vantage Pro2, withstood the onslaught and reported a high wind gust of 199 mph, the highest wind speed ever recorded by a personal weather station on the Weather Underground network, and the fifth highest wind speed ever reliably recorded. According to Weather Underground, the National Hurricane Center plans to mention the measurement in their final report on Irma.
The station, owned by Serge Brin, was mounted on a 21’ pole on a bluff on the north coast of St. Barthelemy, squarely in the path of the storm’s north-northeast winds. It survived the front eyewall of the storm and recorded the 199 mph gust.
The gust came amid sustained wind speeds of 106 mph. This data is backed up by NOAA readings from the island of Barbuda of 118 mph. The Barbuda station reported a high wind gust of 155 mph before it failed. Brin’s Davis Vantage Pro2 station reported a minimum pressure of 916 mb as the eye passed over, which exactly matched that recorded at St. Barts airport.
The Vantage Pro2 is designed to withstand extreme weather. Its anemometer has been wind-tunnel tested to 200 mph, but a hurricane is not a wind tunnel. (For one thing, there are no flying building parts to knock down a weather station in a wind-tunnel.) Surviving a hurricane of this magnitude is a testament to our commitment to making weather instruments that perform as well (or, in this case even better) as professional stations.
While the back eyewall of Irma destroyed Brin’s Vantage Pro2, it did not dampen Brin’s lifelong interest in extreme weather events. “I have been interested in hurricanes since I was ten -- the passage of hurricanes David and Frederic in 1979, and in 1995, Luis, allowed me to see the power of destruction that could be generated by a powerful hurricane,” he told us.
“For my birthday February 6 [Happy Birthday, Serge!], I For my birthday, February 6 2000, I offered myself a Davis station, the Weather Monitor II that allowed me to taste my hobby,” he explained. For me, a passion must be shared with as many people as possible; this is what the Vantage Pro 2, a reliable and very well designed instrument, allows. My house is near the sea, she found herself among the waves causing water infiltration in the living room and bedroom. The roof has been impacted by debris from metal sheets and tree branches, the garden devastated by the waves and finally my car drowned by the swell. Storm tide rose to 12 feet.”
It’s a heart breaking reality that so many people in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico are still suffering from the effects of Irma. But like his neighbors, Serge’s optimism will help rebuild what was lost. “My weather station will be rebuilt before the next hurricane season, even stronger than before!” he said.
A Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 weather station, belonging to Serge Brin, mounted on a 21’ pole on a bluff on the north coast of St. Barts. The station reported the highest wind speed ever recorded by a personal weather station on the Weather Underground network, and the fifth highest wind speed ever reliably recorded.