Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NEMO monitoring tropical wave; asks islanders to stay calm

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Authorities at the local branch of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) are closely monitoring a tropical wave (97L) over the central Caribbean Sea, which could become a tropical storm in the upcoming days. Concern grew when data from the National Hurricane Center showed it heading towards Belize’s general area. NEMO on the island say there is no need to panic yet, but in the case of storm threat, shelters will be made available, and if necessary, people will be assisted with evacuation.

The tropical wave, known as 97L, is expected to only cause heavy rains if it turns into a depression and then tropical storm. NEMO reminded island residents to remain vigilant. At this time, the need to evacuate persons off the island is not expected, but if the storm becomes a threat, people will be advised and encouraged to voluntarily evacuate to the Belmopan shelter or to a mainland family. Masks will be a must for anyone evacuated and they must be screened.

On the island, schools will serve as shelters, along with backup hotels following COVID shelter protocols. Some of these deal with screening people before they are assigned to a class room/room and proper spacing will be enforced to maintain social distancing. For those weathering the storm in their homes, NEMO informs that hardware stores across the island will be open to provide products/materials to safeguard properties.

As San Pedro Town economy has come to a near halt, many residents might not be financially prepared to deal with another crisis after the COVID-19 pandemic. The only assistance that has been mentioned for now is a large-scale food program spearheaded by the Human Development Department.

The Tropical Wave

As of Wednesday, August 19th, there are three areas of concern over the Atlantic basin. The tropical wave could produce showers, thunderstorms and flooding. According to information from the National Hurricane Center, a gradual development of this system is possible during the next day or so, while it moves westward at about 15 to 20 miles per hour across the central Caribbean Sea. Following that time, the wave is forecast to slow down as it moves west-north-westward, and a tropical depression is likely to form when the system reaches the north western Caribbean Sea. It has a medium (60%) chance of formation during the next 48 hours and a high (80%) chance during the next five days.

nemo monitors stormsThis means that if development is to occur, it will likely be before Saturday, August 22nd, when the system is expected to move over the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. The Meteorological Service in Belize has the latest model running from two models (GFS and NAM) showing the system interacting with the landmasses of Honduras and Nicaragua late tomorrow night into Friday, which may limit significant development.

With such interaction with the mainland, the system could emerge into the Gulf of Honduras as a weak and disorganized system. The major threat from this system could then be heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding lasting through much of the weekend. In the worst-case scenario, the system could become a tropical depression or weak tropical storm if it moves further north and avoids the landmasses of Honduras and Nicaragua.

NEMO reminds Belizeans to be calm and vigilant and to stay tuned to any new updates from reliable sources as the weather disturbances develop. People in low lying areas are asked to review their family safety plans for flooding. We will continue following this development.

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