Breaking News

Hurricane Season Upon Us; Normal Activity Expected

May 31
23:10 2019

Friday, May 31st. 2019 –
Hurricane experts are predicting that 2019 will be an average year for hurricane activity, with a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance split between either being above-normal or below-normal.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center is predicting that there will be between nine to 15 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher. Of that number, the Centre further predicts that between four to eight of those storms could develop into hurricanes, with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, and that between two to four will become major hurricanes of category 3 or higher, with winds of 111 miles per hour or stronger.

NOAA reported this week that its Hurricane Hunter aircraft will collect higher-resolution data from upgraded on-board radar systems and that these enhanced observations will be transmitted in near-real time to hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and forecasters at the US’ National Weather Service offices.

Here at home, when there is a threat of a storm approaching Belize, the National Emergency Management Organization’s (NEMO) will respond accordingly to the areas that would be most severely affected. Just this week NEMO Minister, Edmond Castro addressed personnel at a Transportation and Evacuation Planning Session which zeroed in on Coastal and Mainland Evacuation to inland areas.

Last week, Castro told the Reporter that NEMO had already stocked up on basic food and emergency kits and was conducting training with relevant parties. A part of the training involves the Logistics Supply System receiving and tracking the supplies arriving into the country.

At the municipal level, the City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO) was also fine-tuning its response and rescue mechanisms with the first responders, including fire, police, coast guard and ambulatory services in the event they are needed in a storm. Public officers who manage the various school buildings that are assigned as hurricane shelters are also a part of the meetings since they are among the first people to mobilize and open the shelters in time for people to take their families before the storm reaches.

The National Meteorological Service notifies NEMO, which then circulates bulletins of an impending storm. The Met Service also gives frequent advisories via radio and television when a hurricane is expected to hit.

People are advised to stay alert, stay informed, have a family and work plan, and to stock up on food, water and medical supplies that would last their families for up to three days, as well as flashlights and batteries.

The hurricane season officially starts on Saturday, June 1 and lasts until November 30th, but for the past few years, there have been storms that have formed well in advance of June 1. Two weeks ago, Hurricane Andrea formed near Bermuda but it quickly dissipated.

(Image 1: The list of hurricane shelters for Belize City’s north and south sides in the event of a hurricane; and this year’s hurricane names)

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