One of the severest hurricanes ever recorded tore through Bridgetown on 10 August 1831. It left thousands dead, and much of the damage to property would still be apparent when English arrived two years or so later. It is mentioned in letter 5.

The season for hurricanes is August to October, and he didn’t have to wait long before he experienced his first. He was in St Lucia on 20 and 21 October 1834 when extensive damage was caused in Dominica, about 150 miles away. One officer ‘saved his life by getting under an iron bed stead’ (letter 18). Letter 19 records that Sir Charles Smith had gone to Dominica to help rehouse homeless people.

On his journey to Demerara in August 1835 a hurricane blew up at sea. ‘We were suddenly forced to take in all sail’ to ride it out; no mention of seasickness, just delay (letter 40).

The most violent hurricane of the Colonel’s tour in the West Indies ravaged Barbados on 26 July 1837, and is described in letter 83. The Governor, Sir Evan MacGregor, suffering from wounds inflicted in India (see commentary on letter 77), directed rescue operations from ‘the most dangerous part of the reef… until the last man was got on shore’. A vivid account of the same storm, by Lieutenant James on board HM Packet Spey in Carlisle Bay, is quoted by Sir Robert Schomburgk in his History of Barbados (1848):

At two o’clock light showers of rain, wind shifting from south to north-west, the sky dark and gloomy, with flashes of lightning in the south-east and south-west; at four, calm, with a heavy swell rolling into the bay; lightning and thunder, sky assuming a blue-black appearance, with a red glare at the verge of the horizon; every flash of  lightning was accompanied with an unusual whizzing noise, like that of a red-hot iron plunged into water; at six the barometer fell rapidly, the sympiesometer much agitated and unsettled, and fell at length to 28.45 inches; hoisted in the boats, sent down top-gallant masts, struck lower yards and topmasts, let go both power anchors, veered out a long scope of cable on the moorings and both bowers; at 7.30 the hurricane burst on us in all its dreadful fury; at eight it shifted from east-south-east to south, and blew for half an hour, so that we could scarcely stand on the deck; made preparations for battering the hatches down, and cutting away the masts; the sea came rolling into the bay like heavy breakers, the ship itching deep, bowsprit and forecastle sometimes under water; the wind shifting to the west-south-west, at nine the barometer began to rise, and to our great joy we observed a change in the sky for the better. As the haze cleared away, we counted twenty-one sail of merchantmen driven on shore and perfect wrecks. Her Majesty’s Ship Gannet drove with four anchors down, but fortunately brought up, and rode out the gale. Her Majesty’s Steamer Alban went on shore, but in all probability will be got off. One brig foundered at her anchors and sunk. Thank God, we rode it out so well! The Spey, the Gannet, and Fortitude merchant-ship, were all that rode out the hurricane. The City of Kingston Steamer put to sea and returned next day. On the 30th of July, the Spey left Barbados to run along the islands and pick up the mails for England. Found that the hurricane had scarcely been felt at St Lucia, but at Martinique several ships were wrecked. 

The mole at Bridgetown was destroyed, and it fell to English to repair it (letter 90).

English’s friend Lieutenant-Colonel William Reid made a study of hurricanes and wrote a book about their causes (see commentary on letter 111).