The Atlantic Hurricane Season is upon us and Belize has gone from seeing drought across the country to incessant rains and flooding in certain areas. This weekend alone, several inches of rainfall fell causing floods and damages to homes. According to the Deputy Chief Meteorologist at the National Meteorological Service, Ronald Gordon, residents particularly in the west were most affected. He stated that these areas are the ones usually prone to flooding.
Ronald Gordon, Deputy Chief Meteorologist: “We got reports of flooding primarily in the Belmopan area at first also along the George Price Highway, those were the main locations where we had flooding reported this weekend. We were monitoring a system that developed in the Eastern Pacfic. From early last week models were indicating the possibility of the formation of a system and the eventually formed around Saturday at 3pm it was officially declared as a tropical depression actually the number two tropical depression of the Pacific season. Later on early Sunday morning that system strengthened to tropical storm Amanda and eventually crossed over El Salvador and Guatemala. It eventually dissipated over the mountains of Guatemala but that system was responsible for bringing up a lot of moisture into our area that lead to the heavy rains and flooding. The system currently is drifting over Yucatan and will eventually emerge into the Bay of Campeche where the National Hurricane Center gives it a 90% chance of redeveloping into a new tropical depression because once it crosses basins it gets a new name. While that system lingers in our general area it will continue to bring up a lot of moisture from the Pacific and therefore we expect the heavy rainfalls to continue especially during the night.”
Cayo Correspondent Fem Cruz was monitoring the situation over the weekend and spoke with Belmopan’s Mayor on the response measures.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season is from June 1 thru to November 30.
NEMO responds to flooding
With the major flooding that took place in the west and in parts of the Belize District, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), sprang into action on Saturday. According to NEMO’s Minister, Edmund Castro, there was no major loss of property and no loss of human life. There was, however, the need to get persons to higher ground and to aid in their evacuation.
Edmond Castro, Minister of Transport and NEMO:“We also have in the Cotton Tree area whereby some people had to be moved and monitored by NEMO in the St.Matthew’s area we had to evacuate about eight persons or approximately five families and place them in the shelter there at the school at St.Matthews. They are still there at the school however we are hoping that with the rapid off run of the water that they would be able to go home sometime maybe later on this evening depends on the situation or sometime tomorrow. Also in the Mahogany Heights and La Democracia area we experienced some massive flooding in those communities but in none of the areas mentioned earlier people had to move only in the St.Matthews area so we are monitoring this situation. Also the volume of water that was out in parts of Guatemala some of that water will find itself down the Belize River so also again we have to continue over the next seventy two hours monitor the flow of the water. Yesterday we found about three spots on the causeway in Crooked Tree that was under stress so we had Ministry of Works out there today working to repair the areas there on the causeway in Crooked Tree because a part of the causeway wanted to give way and stretched to the capacity we might see some problems there from the volume of water. This morning we have a culvert by the Sebastian Bridge area in the outside of Burrell Boom going out to Maskall and Halfmoon we have a situation there that perhaps it’s a culvert that was burnt out and the volume of water going through that part of the road was about to collapse so we also have the Ministry of Works along with NEMO working on coordinating to deal with that situation out there today.”
According to Castro, they are not expecting more flooding over the next few days, but they are ready in the event that it occurs.
10 Inches of Rainfall – More to Come Says the MET!
As you heard in that story, more than twenty people are now in a shelter in Saint Matthew’s Village where they experienced flash floods over the weekend. But what exactly caused the heavy rains? The National Met Service says that early last week, there were indications that a low pressure system could develop in the eastern pacific moving northward. Well that brought some rains, as many as ten inches, and according to the Deputy Chief Met, there may be more rains coming in the next few days.
Ronald Gordon, Deputy Chief Met, National Met Service
“We at the national met service were closely monitoring that system. Eventually it developed on Saturday and it was declared tropical depression number two by the national hurricane center of the eastern pacific. That system became tropical storm Amanda, later on early Sunday and eventually moved into Guatemala and dissipated over the mountainous terrain of that country. That system was responsible for drawing up a lot of moisture from the pacific into our area creating a lot of heavy rain fall that led to the flooding over the country.”
“Do we know what level of rainfall we saw over the country this weekend?”
“We have reports of upwards of ten inches of rainfall falling in Belmopan and also in the north western portions of the country; our station at Rio Bravo also recorded over ten inches of rain fall over the weekend.”
“But this is nothing abnormal, considering the times that we are in?”
“It is a lot of rainfall for a very short period of time, so I wouldn’t say it is normal; it is actually above average rainfall for two days. So, it is above average rainfall. But, yes , we are approaching the hurricane season and typically we have that type of large circulation developing in the pacific that tends to bring more moisture in our area. Yes we do expect more rain to come. The system that was tropical storm Amanda has actually moved up towards Yucatan as a remnant low pressure area and it is forecast to emerge into the bay of Campeche later today or tonight and there is a high chance that the system could redevelop into another tropical depression. If it does and it becomes a storm once more, it will become a new name storm because it has crossed basin. But this system as it lingers over the area will continue to draw moisture from the pacific area and we are expecting heavy rainfalls especially at night time, especially over northern and central parts of the country for the next few nights.”
“And that heavy rainfall will be concentrated where – more north or the entire country?”
“Mostly north and central areas, however, we could have rainfall anywhere but the bulk of the rainfall is forecasted for the northern and central parts of the country and for that reason we maintain our flood alert for the entire country but especially for residents along rivers and streams who reside in those areas and also in low-lying and flood prone areas of the country.”