The town of San Pedro on
Ambergris Caye is often
described in tourist brochures
as a tropical paradise. That may
be true, but as the bible reminds
us, paradise is not without its
problems. For San Pedro the
problems of the last few years
have been hurricanes and fires...and despite the
approaching height of the hurricane season, no one
was prepared for the upheaval that struck the
town last night. News 5's Jacqueline Woods
Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Overturned planes, smashed boats and houses
without roofs suggest that whatever hit San Pedro
Thursday night was more than a thunderstorm.
Julie Spalding, Bartender, BC's Bar and Grill
"The first thing I thought was...a hurricane because
looked up at the sky I saw like smoke, I saw like little
Raines Flowers, Resident, San Pedro
"I was just sticking my head out the window and I see
from a distance this big ball of smoke coming. And for a
minute I thought it was fire or something, but I didn't
no fire engine nothing."
"From what direction did you see it coming?"
"From seawards, it was coming straight from the ocean."
Katherine Crown, Tourist
"We couldn't see what was coming, we just felt it coming
and hitting us. And it seemed to come kind of this way
that way both at the same time. And they thought it was
waterspout, then they're saying this morning it was a
"Do you believe it was a tornado?"
Victorio Barbosa, Resident, San Pedro
"I believe, it could only be that because a storm, when
going to rain you first feel the breeze and so, but this
this came all of a sudden with everything."
Katherine Crown, a tourist from the United States was
sitting with her family and friends having a late night
bite to eat at BC's Bar and Grill when the weather
made a sudden change. Crown says it was around
10:30 when the breeze grew eerily calm. Then,
without warning came a strong gust of wind.
"A sudden wind came and it got really cold and then
started blowing all over the place. Pizza boxes blowing
over, all the food blowing all over. The beer bottles,
went to take a sip of beer and the bottle went down
And then we hit the floor. I was on the floor, something
me on the head, my daughter-in-law was on the floor
something hit her on the head too and we had a couple
gashes and lumps. And then my son-in-law grabbed me and
pulled me into a closet. But everything was all over the
place, strewn all over the place."
Next door at Aqua Dives, three boats were damaged
when this twenty-eight foot boat was picked up and
thrown on top of two other vessels.
Emil Cano, Front Desk Manager, Aqua Dives
"This one over this side is down, we have some damages
sustained to several other ones on this side, since it
it on top of one another. But this one, on the other
pretty extensively damaged, I think this one is down."
From the beachfront, the system then made its way
across to the island's airstrip.
"At the San Pedro airstrip, the system damage two of
Island's airplanes. The company says the damages could
cost as much as a million Belize dollars."
Fernando Trejo, Managing Director, Maya Island Air
"Well we have two airplanes that are completely damaged
and that's it."
"They were parked safely on the tarmac?"
"Yeah, they were parked right here."
The swath of destruction continued to the back of the
island where it hit the boatyard; ironically a place
was lashed mercilessly by Hurricane Keith in 2000.
Michael Caldwell, Owner, Sunset Bar
"We had about fifty people in the bar and had a pretty
party going on. A little bit of rain and then the wind
a little bit and then it turned loose on us. A little
came right across the bar directly across our dance
here. We all got into a corner and ducked down and held
Eight boats, a golf cart and dock were extensively
"We lost our roof and a lot of tables and chairs and
damage to some TVs and stereos and stuff, so we lost
probably ten of fifteen thousand dollars last night."
From the boat yard, the wicked weather made its way
across the lagoon and into the heart of San Pedrito.
One house was moved eight feet off its foundation,
while three houses lost their roofs.
Victorio Barbosa, Resident, San Pedro
"I just heard a little, like the noise coming. All of a
the door was thrown inside, so I dashed myself under the
table and told my wife to dash down to the floor. But in
instance everything was gone."
"Everything was gone. That has a...well if the house
hurricane's hundred and sixty miles, I believe this was
John Moro's house was the last hit before the phantom
menace finally headed out into the lagoon.
"I was laying here in the bed about 10:30 when the
passed with a lot of wind and a lot of sand and rain
right through to my windows and my doors. And when I was
here in my bed I saw a big piece of zinc drop right
to the floor. And from that I go right through to the
and I tried to go right through to the last door that
the back of this house and I went right through to one
"Could this have been forecasted and could the
residents been forewarned?"
Justin Hulse, Deputy Chief Meteorologist
"Well our forecast last night for thunderstorms was a
general forecast, not for extremely intense
We were going for small craft caution at sea for all the
boats to be cautious in the thunderstorms because near
thunderstorms you get like sudden gusts up to maybe
forty-five miles per hour. It's not the normal damage,
one of two thunderstorms, the really intense
While the weather bureau maintains that it was just a
strong squall, the people who lived through it are
convinced that whatever hit San Pedro was something
much more severe.
"It was a tornado. I lived up in tornado alley up in the
States. When it picks up a golf cart and moves it fifty
and drops it again, it's a tornado."
But even if this event is never officially classified as
tornado, Thursday night's experience will serve as a
reminder--as if San Pedranos needed one--that when
it comes to weather, we can never be too prepared.
Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.
Waterspouts, which are small tornadoes occurring
over water, have been spotted on a number
occasions up and down the coast, including in front
of San Pedro.