The 2017 hurricane season starts today, and if you're getting a shiver of anxiety just thinking about it - don't worry, you're not alone.  After Hurricane Earl mashed up Central Belize last year, everyone is hoping for the best but bring for the worst.  

But what kind of hurricane season is it going to be?  What are the experts saying?  We hear all kinds of forecasts from global experts, but the local outlook is th emost important.  And that's why the Met Office announced their hurricane season forecast today and invited the media for a look at their new and improved website, here's Alex Courtenay with the story...

The hurricane season officially starts today, meaning that if you aren't already prepared to weather a storm, you should start. Today the forecasters at the National Meteorological Service held a press conference to announce their predictions to the storms we'll be seeing this year.

Catherine Cumberbatch - Chief Meteorological Officer, NMS

"They are going for 14 named storms and of these 14 named storms 7 are expected to become hurricanes and 3 of the 14 named storms they are projecting to become stronger or major hurricane- that is category 3 and above on the Saffir-simpson scale."

The 2017 forecast is higher than the average of 12 named storms, 4 hurricanes and 2 categories 3's.  Cumberbatch highlighted some of the factors considered when making the predictions.

Catherine Cumberbatch 
"One was the enso phenomenon in the central pacific, whether we will have an El Niño effect or not, and the warmness of the North Atlantic Ocean was two key factors that came into producing this forecast."

And with an above average year coming up, the weather experts at the Met Office told us just how prepared we need to be.

Derrick Rudon - Deputy Chief Meteorological Officer, NMS
"Now there is no correlation between a high activity season and one making land fall in Belize. So you could have 20 storms one year and you could have 1 storm and that storm affect us. So the thing is, be prepared every year. Be prepared as if a storm I going to hit you. You should know where you are going and know what you are gonna do in the event of a hurricane or a tropical storm."

Now that you know that we'll likely be seeing 14 named storms in the region, you may be wondering how you'll be to keep track of the changing weather and potentially dangerous storms. Well, apart from watching the weather report on the news every night, you'll be able to get live weather updates on the Met Office's new website starting this morning.

Dwayne Scott - Electronic Technician 
"We have three systems running together to give you this information. We developed a brand new Web application for the forecasters to update the website. Previously they would interact with the website and type directly on the back-end of the website to update it. Now there is an application that we have developed in house specifically for that, so they don't interact with the website at all they just type in that and push it to the site. We have our database that is constantly ingesting information and pushing that data to the website and of course there is the content management aspect of the website itself. So those three things are working together to give you what you see here."

The Met Office stresses that seeing more storms than usual does not mean that more will hit Belize.  But, still, everyone should be properly prepared. 

Channel 7

June to November, the Hurricane Season is Here!

The Hurricane Season is here and the Met Service says that this year is forecasted to be active. The above normal season will see fourteen named storms and three are expected to turn into major hurricanes. News Five’s Andrea Polanco shares more on what we can expect from this above normal hurricane season.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On June first the Atlantic Hurricane season begins – and this year the prediction is that the season will be more active from June to November marking the season to be above normal with fourteen named systems.

Catherine Cumberbatch, Chief Met, Belize Met Service

“The 2017 forecast, ladies and gentlemen, is going for a slightly above normal hurricane season. That mean, what we usually expect from the norm – that means the season will be a little more active. What the forecast is showing is that they are going for fourteen named storms; and of these fourteen named storms, seven are expected to become hurricanes and three of the fourteen named storms they are projecting to become a stronger or major hurricane, that is category three or above on the Saffir Simpson Scale.  When we talking about above normal, the normal for any hurricane season is twelve named storms, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes.”

Chief Meteorologist explains why the activity is above normal this year; with two factors responsible:

Catherine Cumberbatch

“There were two main ingredients that were factored into coming up with an above normal forecast. One was the Enzo Paci Phenomenology in the Central Pacific – whether we were going to have an El Nino event or not; and the warmness of the North Atlantic Ocean were the two key factors that came in to predict this forecast. As you all know, Enzo and the El Nino phenomena – when there is the El Nino what it does to our side of the basin, it cause the winds of the upper levels to be very strong and this tends to shred away any activity or any system that tries to develop – it shreds away that activity.”

So what does this mean for Belize? We should just prepare enough no matter how the season looks.

Derrick Rudon, Deputy Chief Met, Belize Met Service

“Seasonal forecast are good but if they are projecting higher than average season, people will tend to prepare. When they are saying a lower than average season, people will tend to prepare. Now, there is no correlation between a high activity season and one making land fall in Belize. So, you can have twenty storms one year and none of them affects us. And you can have one storm one year and that storm affects us, so the thing is to be prepared every year. You should be prepared as if a storm is going to hit you. You should know where you are going in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.”

Catherine Cumberbatch

“They do have what they call the probability – that the system can become within a certain range of our country and all those probabilities that we looked at were very, very low. For instance, the possibility of the storm coming within fifty miles off Belize shore that was only given something like thirty five percent; and a tropical storm coming within one hundred same range of Belize City they only gave that twenty percent; while you have for a hurricane coming within fifty they were only giving that a seventeen percent probability that a system would come in those range; although those probability are very small and low, it doesn’t say much. Because as the Deputy uttered here, it only takes one system, whether the probability is low or not you can still have a system developing. So, it doesn’t matter. The key thing is that these forecasts tell us how we are good and coming close to climatology and  let us be prepared; that is exactly what these forecast tells us.”

Channel 5