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#423727 - 11/30/11 08:07 AM Hurricane Season Ends: Belize Is Spared
Marty Offline
The 2011 Hurricane Season will end tomorrow - and, this year, Belize can boast that it was spared.

But there were legitimate scares: Tropical Storm Harvey in August and Hurricane Rina last month.

Harvey made the biggest news with that tornado that ripped up Crooked Tree in just a few explosive minutes. The tornado erupted in the center of the country, far from the where the storm was projected to make landfall in southern Belize - but the Meteorology Office said it was directly related.

Tonight, we look back at that unusual - but not altogether unprecedented - climatic event:...

On Saturday morning Belizeans in the south-central part of the country got ready to brace for Tropical Storm Harvey - but no one was expecting a tornado to tear through Crooked Tree Village.

So while those in the south luckily did not have to endure the ravages of a storm - in Crooked Tree they literally did not know what hit them. Our team was there shortly after the tornado turned Crooked Trees into broken trees.

Jules Vasquez Reporting
Neighbors and relatives clutched unto each other traumatized and stunned after the tornado smashed their home to bits.

The thoroughness of the destruction is hard to describe. The home was mashed up alright - but it was also blown to bits - with the contents dispersed over a wide area:

Edward "King" Leslie
"It happen so fast, it took like about 10 seconds."

Jules Vasquez
"10 seconds for all of this wreckage? It blew the house down in 10 seconds?"

Edward "King" Leslie
"I was sleeping; my girlfriend was on the bed. `She wake me up and say 'listen, listen'. I told her that it wasn't time for the storm to reach Belize yet. During that space of time she told me that it must be a helicopter. I told her that it didn't sound like a helicopter, so I open the back door and I look out and saw breeze coming in a circular direction at us. So I close the door and when I did that the glass window breaks - the bed is right next to the glass window. When that happens my girlfriend kneel down on the bed and grab on to the window. I told her to leave the window alone, by that time I was on the floor and the walls came falling down. Quick as that."

Jules Vasquez
"So you didn't have time to do anything."

Edward "King" Leslie
"Nothing, you don't even have time to save your own life if you needed to do that."

Luckily they did not need to do that - judging from the sweep of ruin though; it was close - even for these house birds that nested themselves in this beam.

While for the time being, the humans had to nest outside

Edward "King" Leslie
"Nothing we can do about it. I am happy to be alive. I am grateful for that. I can't worry about this part."

And while he took stock of his home to see the whole picture. We followed the twister's path as it cut a wide swath and about a thousand feet away - that's where this zinc sheet from his home was wrapped around a tree.

This teddy bear was flung 100 feet away and moving on along the path of destruction we find that it even snapped a barbwire fence as it roared through the open area 300 feet away, here's a part of Leslie's roof beside a snapped tree crushed and mangled.

This cashew tree - was uprooted and hurled 40 feet from where it was rooted in the ground, aluminum zinc wrapped like aluminum foil as trees were split and snapped open.

Those that weren't had the zinc hanging like a mast at this house they were already working on the roof while the old zinc hung around like a ghost….

Marie Tillett, Resident, ran for cover
"What led me to stand by and watch was when I saw like a huge ball coming and all the trees are getting chopped and it coming."

All kinds of trees were uprooted all over the place - their roots clinging desperately…

Jules Vasquez
"Now I know you have your parents here who are senior residents of this village. How did they weather it?"

Pastor Maurice Westby, Jr., Family's Home Damaged
"They were just like myself. My mom said that she had no idea what was happening. This thing happen so fast it was within 10 seconds. I was that by the time she try to close the front door - the door blew her back inside and then everything went chaos. Zinc started flying. The door was block in. She couldn't come through the front door; she had to climb over stuff to go see my brother down the street which you just interviewed."

The panorama of ruin was difficult to assess - it was everywhere:

Hon. Melvin Hulse, NEMO Minister
"We got accustomed to damages in the past but definitely something has happen and we begin to get tornadoes as its own entity now."

Hon. Edmund Castro, Area Representative
"Its 10 families houses that got structural damages and so I glad that my colleague - the Minister of NEMO Hon. Melvin Hulse is out here to see firsthand the damages that occur here in Crooked Tree and so we are looking forward to get a speedy recovery in this area to help these people to get back on their feet."

Steve Anthony, Vice-Chairman, Crooked Tree
"Right away the village council is on top of everything. We went around and access the damages. NEMO came in, Red Cross came in, and you guys are here - much appreciated and nobody as far as we know so far got hurt. A few people will have to be relocated this evening but the villagers and the village council have that under control."

Further east this iguana seemed content with his surroundings, even if this tree snapped like a toothpick twenty feet from his home and not only trees but lamp-posts as well.

And closer to the lagoon this dog house was caught up with a tree. But the dog was fast enough to get out on time. Incredibly all the trees in this yard were wrecked but the house was spared.

Patty Rhaburn
"Lord, I don't know where to start. Anyhow my kids and I was downstairs watching a movie when my neighbor call out from upstairs saying 'girl, you heard that thing' when I peep through the window I see the clouds dark and I thought it was helicopter and when I look I see the trees open and I see all the limbs wring off. When I took another look I saw all the trees in front of my yard. It was then that I got frighten because then I realize it was something different from a helicopter. Then when I come out after it pass all the housetop zincs were shaking and when I came outside and look at the damage I said 'my Lord, I can't believe it'."

Jules Vasquez
"I see all these trees beside your house. They are split open - they are up-rooted but nothing happen to your house, not one sheet of zinc is displaced, you vat seems to still be in place. The zinc on your well is still in place. How could that be?"

Patty Rhaburn
"I don't know. It is unexplainable."

And while no life was loss, livelihoods were lost - in the uprooting of scores of Cashew trees:

Bruce Tillett, Lost Cashew Trees
"I lost my livelihood for years - these cashew trees are at least about 10 years old and they are starting to bear the right way - I am just getting a good crop every year."

Jules Vasquez
"So how many trees did you have?"

Bruce Tillett, Lost Cashew Trees
"I have over 300 trees."

Jules Vasquez
"How many were destroyed?"

Bruce Tillett, Lost Cashew Trees
"At least about 150 of them are gone."

Jules Vasquez
"You have to feel two ways I would imagine - that I just lost my livelihood but my life was also speared."

Bruce Tillett, Lost Cashew Trees
"It could have been worst because we didn't really lose any life but I feel the cashew trees more that my house."

Pastor Maurice Westby, Jr., Family's Home Damaged
"As old as my mom is 87 - she turn 87 this month in August. She picks cashew seeds. She had about 5 sacks of cashew seeds from this year these trees right around that you see got damage. So this coming year is going to be dim especially for this yard where we grew up - the Westby's yard in Crooked Tree. I don't know what we will get this year with cashew nuts. That's a part of their sustenance - the cashew seeds."

Patty Rhaburn
"We still have to be thankful that God didn't make anybody got hurt through the whole ordeal but all our crops - the cashew trees that we depend on - those are gone, we can all of them down. So next year we will take a hit when it comes to cashew` seeds. It's very hard because this is what we depend on to live by. This is Crooked Tree livelihood."

Hon. Melvin Hulse, NEMO Minister
"It is a disaster. NEMO does not segregate disasters. We are going to come in here. That why I came personally and quickly, it helps me now to get a figure because now we have to build back houses."

Jules Vasquez
"Not only houses, the cashew trees have a value."

Hon. Melvin Hulse, NEMO Minister
"The agriculture component - the Minister of Agriculture Rene Montero has always been quick to get the job done. We have never had any problems with that."

Harvey never reached hurricane strength and did no damage in southern Belize.

And while that was associated with Harvey, the only other major weather system that threatened Belize was Hurricane Rina, which appeared ominous for a few days in mid-October. But then, the storm did just as forecasters said it would and skated right past Belize and up along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

In all, there were 19 named storms this season and seven hurricanes: three of these became major hurricanes, meaning category three or higher.

Those numbers qualify it as a very active season.

Channel 7

#423809 - 12/01/11 08:37 AM Re: Hurricane Season Ends: Belize Is Spared [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Hurricane Season comes to an end

Today officially marks the end of an active Atlantic Basin Hurricane season and while there were a few scares, in the end the Jewel was spared. The Western Caribbean was the area buzzing with storm activities; two systems, Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Rina, sent NEMO into emergency. At the start of the season eighteen named storms were predicted, nineteen developed so the National Meteorological Service says that the forecast was pretty much on target. Storm activity was heightened this year by the presence of the La Nino, turned La Nina cycle at the earlier part of the season. News Five spoke with Forecaster Frank Tench via phone, who shared the highlights of the 2011 Hurricane Season forecast.

Via Phone: Frank Tench, Forecaster, National Meteorological Service

“Okay, as you rightly said the forecast issued at the start of the hurricane season was suggesting an active season. In terms of numbers we had a total of nineteen named storms, about six which became hurricanes and we had three intense hurricanes. Now comparing those figures to the fifty-year mean of storms which is about ten named storms in any one year, six hurricanes and two intense hurricanes, the actual figures worked out to be much above those averages. So in terms of whether or not the forecast came true or not, in large measure that forecast was fulfilled in terms of the number of named storms which actually nineteen is well above the average of ten named storms and the average of hurricanes, six or more or less sort of played out well. We fell a little short in terms of the number of intense hurricanes, well actually we exceeded the number of intense hurricanes, we had three intense hurricanes this year and we averaged about two, so there in large measure the seasonal forecast for this year’s hurricane season played out very well.”

Andrea Polanco

Frank Tench

“Okay, forecaster, would you say that there is any specific factor that contributed to the season being very active?”

Via Phone: Frank Tench

“Well, we were in a neutral phase of the El Nino cycle at the start of the hurricane season and by August the El Nino cycle reverted to La Nina, weak one at that in August but still well enough to be classified to weak to moderate La Nina scenario. El Nino situation in the cycle or a neutral phase, both stages tend to contribute to an active hurricane season or promote a higher frequency of tropical storms or hurricane. And as I said this season reverted to a weak to moderate La Nina in August and that was a condition favorable for the frequency of tropical storms this season. Another factor that contributed significantly were the warm sea surface temperatures persisting over the Caribbean Sea and the Tropical Atlantic even before the beginning of this year’s Hurricane Season. If you’ll remember quite a few of the intense hurricane had their best lives over the Tropical Atlantic for this year’s hurricane season.”

Now that the 2011 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season is behind us, the Meteorological Service advises the public to closely look at the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s hurricane plan and to adequately modify those measures as they see fit for next year’s hurricane season.

Channel 5


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