With the images of destruction
and despair left in the wake of
Hurricane Iris still vivid in the
minds of most Belizeans, the
official start of the hurricane
season this weekend is being
viewed with more than a little
anxiety. While there is no
certainty that a storm will or will not hit Belize this
year, one thing is sure; we must prepare.
Carlos Fuller, Chief Meteorologist
"We've had several forecasts being issued. The Cuban
Met Service predicts twelve tropical storms of which
nine becomes hurricanes, three of them intense
hurricanes. The U.S. Weather Service did a prediction,
they are expecting nine to thirteen storms, seven to
nine hurricanes and two to three intense hurricanes.
And Bill Gray who is the most famous of these
forecasters, is forecasting twelve tropical storms,
seven hurricanes and three intense hurricanes."
Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
In the past three years, Belize has been affected by
four storms, three of which were intense hurricanes.
This year, the Belize Met Service cannot predict
whether we will be spared from these deadly natural
disasters, but is warning Belizeans to be prepared for
any storm that may pose a threat to the country.
Today, the Met Service is better prepared to track
"We are better prepared in two main ways. First of all,
we got back three members of staff last year having
undergone higher training. One person with a Master
Degree, a person with a Bachelor's Degree and a
person with a Professional Forecaster's Certificate. So
we have more personnel better trained. And in
addition we have increased the capacity of the
equipment at the Met office. Late last year we
installed new satellite reception capabilities. So we
now have the ability to see images with a resolution
of one kilometre, which is far better and we are
getting pictures every fifteen minutes."
Chief Meteorologist Carlos Fuller says five additional
weather stations have been installed at schools to be
used as hurricane shelters in an effort to chart data on
whatever system that approaches our area. In the
mean time, Fuller says families should have already
started to prepare for yet another active season.
"This weekend is the ideal time to get ready for the
hurricane season, that is by making your hurricane
plan. Many people wait until an emergency is declared
for them to decide what they are going to do. It is
then too late. If you decide now what to do in event
when it is declared and you write it down then you
will be much better prepared in the event it is
The hurricane season officially opens this Saturday,
but just how many of us are prepared?
"You should have a plan according to the
announcement. But at present it no put in action as
yet. But it will be put in action, because like they say
in a time of peace you prepare for war."
"Do you have a hurricane plan?"
"Actually, no I don't. But after seeing what has
happened over the last years, I actually know better
what to do for hurricanes. With the plan I actually
moved away from Belize City because the probability
of a hurricane hitting Belize is actually more now than
ever. And the amount of investment we have in our
household appliances whatever will be washed away,
so I have decided to move away from Belize City."
"Well we will continue and just do what we did for the
past two years or so, and it could be Belmopan or
Hattieville, because there's a place in each of those
locations that we can go to. I reluctant to go, but if
I'm pressed I will do that."
"We are preparing for the hurricane season. We
already started our roof and we already have life vests
in case it starts flooding, when hurricane comes
flooding tends to occur. And we're start preparing for
"Sir, if a hurricane threatens Belize what will you do?"
"I wah have to mek up mi mind fi ketch a shelter and
maybe if the condition of the place is good I will stay
"Do you plan to remain in Belize City?"
"In Belize City I live and I will have to plan to find a
"My intention if hurricane come is just go dah
Lizarraga High School. I no live too far from there"
"So you would stay in Belize City?"
"Yes, so I could maybe run go peep on my lee old
house and see that everything safe."
"Anybody who is doing any thinking right now, should
be thinking of going to stay with a friend or a family
member in Belmopan or San Ignacio or Orange Walk
Town, move out of the city. And if you don't have
anybody like that, then think of a shelter in one of
these towns. As the last resort, if you cannot escape
Belize City, then think about a shelter in Belize City."
NEMO has eleven operation committees located
countrywide. Fuller, a member of the Warning
Committee, says because during an emergency
hundreds of people seek shelter in the City of
Belmopan, this year the committee has established a
working relationship with that City Council.
"That is a place of refuge. People run from San Pedro
or Caye Caulker and go to Belmopan. So we needed to
co-ordinate that movement of people, so in fact when
a boat leaves San Pedro or Caye Caulker, we have a
manifest of who is on the boat and where are they
going. So in Belmopan they know what time to expect
these people and which shelter to put them."
According to Fuller, both the Belize Met Service and
NEMO will be meeting with the managers of the
various media houses in an effort to establish a
system to provide information to the general public
during a storm as quickly as possible. Jacqueline
Woods reporting for News 5.
The hurricane season, which opens on Saturday,
June first, will close on November thirtieth.
Meteorologists tell News 5 that data documented
over the last five years indicate that the strongest
storms develop in the latter part of the season,
from August to October.