Tropical Storm Philippe’s Unprecedented Rainfall and Unexpected Journey


By Dale C. S. Destin 


On the night of October 2/3, 2023, residents of Antigua experienced a weather event that would be etched into their memories for years to come.

Tropical Storm Philippe, an unassuming name for a meteorological force, unleashed a deluge of rain upon the island, shattering records and bringing with it a series of unexpected events. In this blog, we will recount the night of October 2/3, 2023, and explore the impact of Philippe’s visit.

Infrared satellite image of the clouds (warm colours) and thunderstorms (blue and white) of Philippe – 10 pm October 2 to 3 am October 3, 2023, local time, or 0200 to 0700 UTC, October 3, 2023.

Proxy visible satellite image of the clouds (white) and thunderstorms (blue and white) of Philippe – 10 pm October 2 to 3 am October 3, 2023, local time, or 0200 to 0700 UTC, October 3, 2023.

Record-Breaking RainfallTropical Storm Philippe turned the night of October 2 into an unforgettable experience. The island of Antigua received an astonishing amount of rainfall in a matter of hours, with some areas accumulating nearly 200 mm (approximately 8 inches). This single day became the wettest October 2 on record at the V. C. Bird International Airport (VCBIA), shattering the previous record of 43.9 mm (1.73 in) set in 1989.

The VCBIA, which had not seen such a one-day rainfall in October since 1978, recorded a staggering 161.8 mm (6.37 in), ranking it as the seventh wettest day (tied with November 6, 1974) since consistent record-keeping began in 1967. For many places, it was the wettest and most intense rainfall since the deluge of November 2020.

Flash flooding in Perry Bay (Gray’s Farm), Antigua – October 3, 2023

Flash flooding on Old Parham Road, Antigua – October 3, 2023

This one day has already made this October the wettest at VCBIA since 2012. It has also made this October the wettest month since September 2022, thus far at VCBIA, and will likely become the wettest month since the deluge of November 2020.

The Punch of PhilippeMost of this gushing rainfall, that dowsed the country, occurred in a remarkably short time frame, with over 90 percent of it falling in less than three hours. A rain rate of more than 50 mm (1.97 in) per hour is aptly called violent. Well, there were times when the rain rate from Philippe was more than doubly violent; it was at times upward of 140 mm (5.67 in) per hour.Tropical Storm Philippe also brought storm winds, with a maximum 1-minute sustained winds of 98 km/h (61 mph) and hurricane-force gusts of 122 km/h (76 mph). Of note, the advertised wind speed when it was in our area was 50 mph, around 20% less than the reality.

The exposed centre of Philippe made landfall on Barbuda at about 6 pm (2200 UTC), October 2, 2023. It was like a tree falling in the forest, no one felt anything; it was absolutely devoid of any strong winds near its centre.If you were standing on a beach, with a lit candle, on the Atlantic side of Barbuda, where the centre came ashore, you would not have known that a storm pass over you.Despite its quiet landfall on Barbuda, about four hours later, all hell broke loose. The mother of all thunderstorms for Antigua was unleashed for about four hours starting at around 10 pm (0200 UTC), October 2.It is being described by many to be the longest, loudest and most intense lightning storm in the history of Antigua.During the mother of all thunderstorms, electric power was knocked out island-wide. It was also during this time that a major fire was ignited, likely by lightning, at the Antigua Yacht Club, which destroyed it.

The Antigua Yacht Club on fire, likely ignited by lightning from Philippe – October 3, 2023

The Antigua Yacht Club after the fire – October 2023

A Silver Lining

Despite the chaos and destruction, Philippe did have a silver lining. It brought an end to the hydrological drought that had plagued Antigua for over two years. The epitome of the end of this drought is Potworks Dam, which is about half full.This iconic billion-gallon catchment has not seen this much water since about July 2021. Other public catchments were recharged and so to were private residential catchments.

Potworks Dam, Antigua – October 2 and 3, 2023

The Unpredictable Nature of PhilippeOne of the most striking aspects of Tropical Storm Philippe’s visit was its unpredictability. Initially forecasted to turn north and away from the Caribbean, Philippe defied expectations and stayed in the vicinity of Antigua and Barbuda for four days before eventually making landfall on Barbuda and exiting the area on October 4.Forecasters found themselves confounded as Philippe consistently deviated from predicted paths and behaviours.

Philippe’s unpredictable path – September 24 to October 06, 2023

ConclusionThe night of October 2, 2023, will forever be remembered as the night Tropical Storm Philippe inundated Antigua with record-breaking rainfall and an unforgettable lightning storm.Despite the challenges it posed and the uncertainty it brought, Philippe also delivered a much-needed end to a long-standing hydrological drought. This meteorological event serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of nature.





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  1. With all that rain that fell the mosquitoes are breeding like crazy and Dengue fever in the neighborhood what happening to the fogging? Sheron by this time Mr.Michael troops would be out long time before we have all these adults hatching and like they want to lift you up. We are now getting a Barbuda experience with these mosquitoes.

  2. Very well put together article. I can speak for myself and others that were caught completely off guard by the flooding, even though we were told to expect 4- 6 inches of rain. I guess we just couldn’t fathom the concept of flash floods in the middle of a drought…and on the heels of one of the hottest months of the year. O well, maybe next time we will listen to the weatherman.

  3. Philippe was bawling his eves out, throwing, lightning and thunder fit, going crazy because his partner in crime, Rita was not accepting his #Marriage_Proposal, to become, the #Bonnie_N_Clyde of storms/hurricanes.


    At the very least, Philippe help to ease the water crunch for many. And, while some farmers may have lost some of their crops, I know anyone, in the Farming business is happy to see this event.

    Jumbee_Picknee aka Ras Smood
    De ‘ole Dutty Peg🦶🏿#Garrat_Bastard

    Vere C. Edwards

  4. We can’t buy rain here on the Gulf coast of FL. 4 to 6 inches shouldn’t be *too* bad(?).
    Ian dropped as much as 24 inches on Orlando area.

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