Will Ernesto become a hurricane threat to Belize?
Chief Meteorologist Dennis Gonguez told Amandala late this evening that Belizeans should monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Ernesto, which formed east of the Lesser Antilles earlier today and which could potentially become the second hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Gonguez said that the present track projects the storm as moving west and then making a slight turn north sometime over Sunday night and into Monday. That, said Gonguez, would put the storm just near Belize.
“What we are looking for over the weekend is a more northward turn. If we don’t see that materialize, we will have to hasten preparations,” Gonguez told our newspaper.
Tropical storm warnings—meaning that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area case within 12 to 24 hours—have been posted for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Interests elsewhere in the Lesser Antilles have been advised to continue to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Ernesto.
Gonguez said that the weather system, which had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour this evening, is expected to continue moving at a pace of 22 miles per hour, which, he noted, is not healthy for its development.
“When they move too fast, the environment does not become conducive to development,” the Chief Meteorologist said, adding that he is not expecting any rapid strengthening of the system.
However, he said that if the storm survives while moving at such a fast speed, it could become a minimal hurricane at the most.
“We have more confidence in the track forecast than the intensity forecast,” said Gonguez, speaking of the long-range predictions.
For Belize, he said, the weekend should be relatively quiet and dry.
With the development of Tropical Storm Ernesto from Tropical Depression #5, said Gonguez, the season’s performance is matching meteorological predictions made for 2012. The National Hurricane Center in Miami had said that “...there’s a 70 percent chance of 9 to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those 1 to 3 will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5).”
Two named storms, Alberto and Beryl, formed ahead of the official June 1 start-date of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
Since then, Hurricane Chris, Tropical Storm Debby and now Tropical Storm Ernesto, the fifth storm of the season, have emerged.
In a cautionary note, Gonguez emphasized that although the season appears to be average or slightly below average, it only takes one system to wreak havoc. Amandala