Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Highly Active Hurricane Season predicted for 2024: 23 storm names announced

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The first forecast for the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season has been announced, and weather experts predict this year’s season will be highly active with 23 storm names. These include Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Francine, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Milton, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, and William.
Tropical cyclones are named to help meteorologists communicate with the public, using pre-determined alphabetic lists of alternating male and female names. Belize’s Hurricane Season will begin on June 1 and end on November 30.
According to information shared by Chief Meteorologist Ronald Gordon, it is predicted that of those 23 named storms, 11 could become hurricanes, and 5 of those could become major hurricanes this year. Gordon warns that record high water surface temperatures and the transition from El Nino to La Nina weather phenomenon would produce conditions favorable for the formation of storms, which will be a primary factor for this hurricane season due to warmer water temperatures. La Nina tends to decrease upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean, resulting in reduced vertical wind shear, an environment that favors hurricane formation.
Gordon explained, “We expect to transition from El Nino to La Nina, which means there will be less vertical wind shear.” Vertical wind shear refers to the difference between the wind at one level, the lower levels, and the higher levels. When these winds are quite different and coming from different directions, tropical cyclones cannot intensify because of this disruptive force.
“We know that 23 named storms are predicted for the entire basin; however, because we know that it’s a super active season, the odds of Belize being hit by a strong storm is increased. The figures that I had from the CSU (Colorado State University) Tropical Weather and Climate Research Center also show that the typical average for Belize getting named storm within 50 miles of our coastline is 42%; however, this year, we are at 60%. Therefore, there’s a higher probability that the storm will be coming nearer to us here in the Caribbean, and in terms of total numbers, the average is for there to be 14 named storms. Of those, 14, seven typically become hurricanes, and three become major hurricanes. That’s an average over the last 30 years from 1991 to 2020, so we must be prepared each year because the possibility of one coming our way is the same each year, whether we had one last year or not,” explained Gordon.
It has been reported that since 1930, 16 hurricanes, eight of which were major hurricanes, have made landfall in Belize or even passed close enough to cause damage or loss of life. Additionally, 17 systems made landfall in Belize as tropical storms. So far, only two storms of Category 5 strength and three Category 4 hurricanes have impacted Belize, including the 1931 British Honduras hurricane, Hurricane Keith in 2000, and Hurricane Iris in 2001.
Researchers stress there’s still a high degree of uncertainty about how the season will unfold but are urging residents along the US coastline and in the Caribbean to prepare.
In Belize, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) is the sole government department and authority responsible for keeping Belize prepared for any emergency that may require a national response. NEMO was established to prepare for and respond to hurricanes and floods.
Meteorologists in Belize receive information on precise location and forecast models from the National Hurricane Center in the United States. Major hurricane chances for Caribbean residents stand at 66%. Coastal residents are advised to take proper precautions. The areas in Belize most sensitive to hurricane damage are the Cayes and the coastal regions, including San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Placencia, and the mainland.
Considerable atmospheric changes can occur between April and peak season, and the forecast only intends to provide the best activity estimate. Further updates are due on June 11, July 9, and August 6. The San Pedro Sun would like to advise the public of Ambergris Caye to take notice of the warnings and begin to prepare even at this early stage. Review hurricane preparedness plans and guidelines at https://site.nemo.org.bz/preparedness-guidelines/.

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