Freak storm rocks Orange Walk with wind, rain, hail
As if B.E.L. repair crews in Orange Walk did not have enough to worry about, last night they and local residents faced the havoc created by mother nature in the form of a violent storm.
Patrick Jones, Reporting
Across San Jose Palmar Village the scene was the same...families were drying out their belongings and starting to rebuild their broken homes, after an overnight freak thunderstorm turned their lives upside down. Paulina Quiroa, who says she has lived through similar experiences twice before, was in her house behind her mother-in-law’s, when the storm hit.
Paulina Quiroa, Storm Victim
”The wind started to blow and blow. We thought it would pass; the rain and everything. We went inside and then we noticed that it continued raining. What frightened me a lot was the lightning and thunder. Then it started to rain more heavy, then hail started to fall and that frightened us even more. It was then that my mother-in-law shouted that her roof had blown off. I thought my roof would also be blown off. In the back yard, some plantain trees fell against my house and a big coconut tree also fell down. When the winds died down, I came out of my house to see what was happening, but it was dark and I fell down and scraped my knees.”
No one was physically hurt in the storm, which residents told News Five lasted for about an hour. But it was a harrowing sixty minutes, and without a roof to protect them from the elements, Quiroa says the frightened family members, all fifteen of them, huddled together until help came.
”We sought shelter at our neighbour’s house, then the people from NEMO came and they took us to the hurricane shelter. One of my brothers-in-law went to assist another family to the back and he cut his foot.”
Across the village, the experience was the same for Eliberto Tzul and his family.
Eliberto Tzul, Victim
”This wind start to blow from this side; from the west, and then change to the next side. Then it start to blow hard and all the things get wet inside. It threw this little house right there. All the clothes get wet.”
The storm uprooted trees, downed utility lines, and blew around anything that wasn’t securely anchored. Residents also report observing egg sized hailstones pelting the area at the height of the onslaught. And while they remain shaken, they are all thankful that they survived to tell the story. Patrick Jones, for News Five.
According to Deputy Chief Meteorologist Ramon Frutos, Tuesday night's freak storm in the North was the result of several factors, including the intense heat and the presence of a stationary front in the Gulf of Mexico which pushed a trough of low pressure across the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Corozal, Orange Walk, Cayo and Toledo Districts. Frutos says that such localized freak storms are not unusual during the dry season when strong heat builds up in the lower atmosphere. Experts at the Weather Bureau were unable to detect the formation of the storm because key equipment, including its radar, was inoperable. Should we expect more of these localized thunderstorms? Frutos says absolutely, as the hot dry weather is expected to continue for most of this month.
BELIZE MET SERVICE EXPLAINS WHAT CAUSED FREAK STORM IN ORANGE WALK LAST NIGHT:
We had a quasi stationary front over the eastern Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula and also it induced a trough of low pressure over Yucatan itself and down into Northern Central America. This trough is usually something that we refer to as a pert ovation in the flow, but because of the intense heat we got yesterday and the previous days that have been accumulating on the atmosphere and an influx of moisture from the North East over the Caribbean it all combined to produce some thunderstorms over Yucatan, and during the course of yesterday evening and last night some of these thunderstorms began to evolve or extend further South to Northern Belize and it began to drift towards the Coast. That is basically what happened and some of the thunderstorms were accompanied by strong squally winds if probably in excess of 40 knots and what we also noticed from the satellite pictures yesterday was that some of the thunderstorms regenerated in the south west tern part of the cou
ntry beyond our borders in Guatemala and those moved over Southern Belize.
The freak storm caused flooding, uprooted trees and down power lines in several areas of that Northern District. It also caused hail stones the size of tennis balls to fall. Ramon Frutos says the heat will continue as the country is experiencing a drought.