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#419843 - 10/26/11 09:10 AM Hurricane Rina: A Real Risk For Belize
Marty Offline
Tonight Hurricane Rina poses a significant threat to Belize. It is a slow moving, category two storm with maximum winds of 110 miles per hour and it is 255 miles almost due west of Belize City.

The problem tonight is that - while forecasters continue to say the storm will take a sharp northwesterly track - this afternoon, Rina defied those predictions, and started heading west - which - if it were to continue on that track - would be straight towards Belize City.

After that 3:00 pm advisory, we asked Chief Met Officer Dennis Gonguez what the westerly track means - and what kind of precautions you should take.

Dennis Gonguez - Chief Met Officer
"At 3 pm today hurricane Rina was located near latitude 17.4 north and longitude 84.3 west, that location is about 250 miles east of Belize City. Rina has strengthened and now has wind of 110 mph. it's almost a major hurricane almost a category three hurricane. Developments are that Rina is now on a west worth track at about 3 mph. Still forecast to make a more northwesterly track and then a more northerly track on Thursday. However at the present time it continues on a slow westerly track at 3 mph.

"We have to place close attention to it. During the course of tonight we have to keep monitoring hurricane Rina to see whether it assumes a more north westerly track during the course of tonight. If it continues travelling towards the west then we are in for some major problems. it's east of Belize City at latitude 17.4 north and Belize city is 17.5 north so it's almost directly east of Belize City and like I said about 258 or 260 miles east of Belize City. Because it's over favorable conditions - it's over a pool of warm sea surface temperatures that is favorable for it to intensify further to be a major hurricane a category 3 hurricane during the course of tonight."

"We should be paying close attention during the course of tonight with the motion of this system to see whether it takes that more west north westerly track and if it doesn't then our preparations must be completed tomorrow to safeguard life and property."

"If it continues westerly track land fall will be just north of Belize City, however the most of the forecast models are indicating a north westerly turns during tonight and tomorrow morning, and that's why we have to keep monitoring during the course of tonight to see whether turn materializes."

"Rina is a potentially dangerous hurricane and we should be paying close attention to what it's doing presently and what it's projected path is for Rina, because if it continues on a westerly track it could create major havoc for Belize."

A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of Belize from Belize City to the northern border. Again the storm is 255 miles due west of Belize City and Tropical storm force winds extend outwards 140 miles while Hurricane Force Winds extend out 30 miles from the center. A turn to the west northwest is expected tonight - and we'll be watching closely for that. NEMO says Rina is expected to become to major Hurricane within the next 24 hours - although with winds presently at 110 miles per hour, she is fairly formidable as is.

Later on in the newscast, we'll show you how evacuation efforts on San Pedro were going today.

Channel 7

#419854 - 10/26/11 09:39 AM Re: Hurricane Rina: A Real Risk For Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Hurricane Rina, where are you going?

The northern part of the country, stretching from Belize City to the northern border is under hurricane watch and it looks that Rina, a category two hurricane can further strengthen. With winds of up to one hundred and ten miles, and moving at three miles per hour, it can become a hurricane a category three by morning. Late this evening, Hurricane Rina shifted westward which means that the northern part of Belize, in particular, will experience the brunt of the storm. Rina is two hundred and fifty eight miles east of Belize. At its headquarters in Belmopan, NEMO is in full swing. Evacuations are ongoing from the cayes and it is expected that in the Corozal District, on Wednesday residents will be moved inland. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Hurricane Rina is now a category two storm and will be even stronger in the next twenty-four hours when it is expected to affect Belize. Today residents from San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Corozal, who would be the path of destruction, started evacuating. The University of Belize gym and Scarlet Macaw buildings in Belmopan were opened as shelters. While those were unoccupied up to this afternoon, NEMO Coordinator, Noreen Fairweather, says hundreds of persons left the islands.

Noreen Fairweather

Noreen Fairweather, NEMO Coordinator

“Throughout the course of the day, we have been continuing with the evacuation of the islands. As we speak, about fifteen hundred or so persons have been evacuated; twelve hundred of those by boat and another three hundred plus by air. Most of the persons that have been evacuated off the islands, have opted to move in with friends and family or in homes in the case of those who work on the island and have home on the mainland. But we still have shelter available here in Belmopan at the UB campus, the UB gym. Even those that have come to Belmopan have friends and family in this area and so they have opted to go to those homes.”

Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorologist

“At three p.m. Hurricane Rina was located near latitude seventeen point for north, longitude eighteen point four west. That position is about two hundred and fifty, two hundred and sixty miles east of Belize City. The new development is that Rina is moving towards the west now at three miles per hour. Winds have intensified to a hundred and ten miles per hour; that’s a borderline category three hurricane, almost a major hurricane.”

NEMO has not yet started evacuations in the northern districts, but Fairweather says that may be necessary on Wednesday.

Noreen Fairweather

“We haven’t done any evacuation in the mainland area. We are monitoring the storm as we speak. The sea conditions are getting a little bit more unfavorable. The reports we are getting right now, just outside the reef we have wave action about six to eight feet and we expect that later on throughout this even that will start to translate within the reef in the inner lagoon. What they are going to do is that this evening we will cease the evacuation process. We will not be evacuating anybody by night. We have an evacuation plan in terms of who goes to the shelter depending on the category of the storm. As it stands right now, it’s all external. Once winds are over a hundred miles per hour, the evacuations are external, which means that those communities that are on the coast will move inland to the designated shelter for them. But that determination will be made tomorrow.”

Dennis Gonguez

While Hurricane Rina is moving dauntingly slow, it is intensifying quickly and has shifted its direction. Chief Met Officer, Dennis Gonguez says that could mean bad news for northern Belize.

Dennis Gonguez

“Well the forecast is still for a west, northwesterly track and then a more northerly track on Wednesday morning. However, we have to monitor it during the course of tonight to see whether it starts to assume that more west, northwesterly track so we have to pay close attention to the system tonight to see if it assumes that westerly track or it assumes the forecasted west, northwesterly track and then eventually northerly.”

Delahnie Bain

“And if it does go the forecasted way; that means that we won’t be directly impacted?”

Dennis Gonguez

“Yes, it would make a turn before reaching our shores and it would make landfall somewhere around Playa Del Carmen, however, if it continues on that westerly track then we’re in major trouble.”

The forecasted path is for Rina to turn away and only bring rains, but as it stands, the hurricane is still a major threat. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Evacuation operations from the islands were discontinued at five and will begin in earnest at five in the morning. NEMO says that it remains on full alert and urges the public to take necessary actions since Rina could become a powerful hurricane. More on the hurricane later in the newscast.

Channel 5

#419855 - 10/26/11 09:42 AM Re: Hurricane Rina: A Real Risk For Belize [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Hurricane Rina skulking at Belize’s door

Chief Meteorologist Dennis Gonguez confirmed this evening that “conditions are ripe for the intensification” of Hurricane Rina – the 6th of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season and the 18th named storm – as the cyclone moves on a slow track over a warm pool of water near Belize’s coast.

According to Gonguez, the NHC projects that landfall will occur around midday Thursday between the Belize-Mexico border and Cancun, Mexico, midway on the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. If the storm heads more west, however, landfall will be earlier than Thursday and our region could be more substantially affected, he explained.

This evening, the Government of Belize, through the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), jumped the preliminary phase and declared a phase II, Red I hurricane watch for the northern half of Belize, from Belize City to Corozal.

Water taxi operations have also been suspended for tomorrow because of a possible evacuation of San Pedro and Caye Caulker, and shelter provisions are being made at the University of Belize’s auditoriums in Belmopan for evacuees from the islands.

“Keep an eye out. It looks to become a major hurricane tomorrow,” Gonguez warned.

The cyclone is forecast to turn into a major hurricane with winds of 115 to 120 mph (category 3 hurricane) by Wednesday, October 26. It is also possible that it may become a category 4 hurricane, Gonguez also indicated.

As for landfall predictions, Gonguez noted, however, that there is a level of uncertainty since the forecast is for 72 hours.

“The northern districts of Belize lie in the uncertainty cone,” said Gonguez, explaining the decision to advise NEMO to declare the hurricane watch for northern Belize.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said this afternoon that interests in Belize and the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, as well as the adjacent islands, should monitor the progress of Rina.

About noon local time today, the NHC confirmed that Rina, which got its name as a tropical storm only this morning, had become a hurricane, and that “additional strengthening” is expected.

The announcement came after an Air Force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft signaled that the maximum sustained winds had increased to near 75 mph or 120 km/h.

At press time this evening, Rina was said to be crawling at 3 miles per hour, maintaining its hurricane force winds; and sea surface temperatures of almost 90 degrees are expected to feed its rapid development.

Weather experts say that its winds could exceed 110 miles per hour over the course of the next day.

“That track can be adjusted either north or south,” Gonguez added, explaining that, “we would have a better feel for that on Wednesday morning...by mid-morning on Wednesday.”

The Chief Meteorologist said that Belize may start seeing impacts of storm-related wave action, as well as rains from the outer-bands of the hurricane, tomorrow.

He said that because of warm sea surface temperatures, which encourage cyclone development, the system is expected to continue to strengthen as it continues on this slow path right.

Forecaster Frank Tench indicated to us at around 4:00 this evening that the storm was located about 338 miles from Belize City, on a path just south of east.

There has been some discussion in the public domain of the possibility of Rina looping back into this part of the Caribbean after moving northwards.

Gonguez said he does not want to discuss that possibility yet, since there is still uncertainty over Rina’s track. He did say, though, that on Saturday, Belize may still not be out of the woods.

“During this time of the year,” said Gonguez, “the track forecasts are uncertain over this part of the Western Caribbean, because of transition into winter season, and cold fronts come to influence the system.”

A cold front, he said, is forecast to reach our region around Thursday, and if it does, it would speed up Rina and steer it more northward and away from Belize. If it fails to come, though, the hurricane could continue more westerly, he advised.

Gonguez said that by tomorrow evening, the outer bands of Rina should start to show up on Belize’s Doppler radar, which can see a distance of 250 kilometers.

Based on current projections, said Gonguez, northern Belize could get 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, but more depending on the final track and features of Rina.



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