The destruction of St. Pierre

By Lennox Honychurch

At ten minutes past 8.00am on Thursday 8 May 1902, Morne Pelée, the volcano on Martinique, tore itself apart in a violent eruption and destroyed the city of St. Pierre, killing some 30,000 people in the process.

Less than thirty miles away, the people of Roseau (Dominica's capital) and southern Dominica stood in shock as giant clouds of ash rolled towards them and they heard great blasts of sound from across the channel that one official thought were perhaps the guns of naval warships: “There it goes again. Boom, boom, booo-m! It is not thunder and yet it seems to come from somewhere in the sky. Most extraordinary.” The streets of Roseau had been covered in ash since the night before. At Morne Rouge Estate, which faces Martinique, old Joseph Bellot told his labourers to put on their nightgowns, kneel in prayer and prepare for the end of the world. Meanwhile for the citizens of St.Pierre, their world had indeed ended.

The Earthquake of 1843

By Lennox Honychurch

While there is great concern at the experiences and damage caused by the earthquake on the morning of Sunday 21 November 2004, we should not see this, as so many radio callers seemed to think, as an isolated incident designed as some form of divine retribution on Dominica. It is part of the nature of the place where we live. A similar earthquake, believed to be of about the same magnitude, also caused wide scale damage in Dominica one hundred and sixty one years ago. It was described at the time as "The longest and strongest quake yet felt in the island".

The Mega-Slides of 1995

By Arlington James

The year 1995 has gone down in history as having the most active hurricane season since 1933. That year, nineteen of the tropical weather systems that developed over the Atlantic Ocean or the Caribbean Sea strengthened into tropical storms or hurricanes. Several countries were affected by some of those storms, and Dominica got its unwelcome share of the 'action'. Over a period of nineteen days between August 27 and September 14, the island was hit by three tropical weather systems. First it was Tropical Storm Iris that opened the reign of terror. Then she was followed a few days later by Hurricane Luis that unleashed its fury against the Nature Isle. And, as if to add insult to injury, Hurricane Marilyn joined in the onslaught only nine days after 'Luis'. Dominicans often refer to those three storms collectively as 'The Storms of 1995'. 

By Arlington James

Today 28th December 2004 - the first working day for Public Servants, merchants and other private sector entities after the extended Christmas & Boxing Day "weekend", starting at about 9:00 a.m., four of us from Forestry & Parks (Bertie, Randy, Stephen-T and I), as well as a camera man from Marpin TV, made the journey to the Boiling Lake to verify the information that had been relayed to the Forest Officer/National Parks on Christmas Day, that the Boiling Lake was "no more".

Based on what we saw, it appears that Dominica will not be able to boast of having the world's largest boiling lake - at least not for a while (and for how long, is anybody's guess).

By Arlington James

It is a fact that one can cook an egg in the Boiling Lake… that is, when it is boiling with temperatures of 92.5o C at the edges. But alas, Dominica’s hottest natural wonder, the world’s second largest Boiling Lake, occasionally fails to live up to expectation … and its name. In January 1900, in 1971, and recently in April and May 1988, the Lake was in one of its unusual states.

Located at 2,500 ft above sea level, and over some difficult terrain, the Boiling Lake has become an important natural attraction in Dominica.

But tourists and local hikers are sometimes disappointed to find the Boiling Lake with no steam, at extremely low levels, and worse yet, “bone dry”. Photographs taken of the lake in January 1900 showed the lake completely dry at the time. In 1972, student hikers from the Dominica Grammar School, as well as some villagers from Laudat, reportedly bathed in the Boiling Lake, whose levels and temperatures had dropped.

On Sunday April 17, 1988, Forest Guard Ronnie W.K., my basketball colleague Martin D. and myself trekked up to the Boiling Lake, following a report received two days earlier that the Boiling Lake had dried up.