Today, Wednesday, 1st June marks the official start of the 2022 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico). The season runs from 1st June to 30th November each year. However, there are occasions when a tropical cyclone may form outside of this period.
The 2022 forecast is suggesting that tropical cyclone activity will be above normal in the Atlantic Basin. The prediction is for there to be fourteen to twenty-one named storms. Of those, six to ten are expected to become hurricanes and three to six are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger). An average season in the Atlantic Basin consists of fourteen named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
The two main factors supporting an active 2022 Atlantic hurricane season are:
(1) El Nino is not expected this year; therefore, this factor will not contribute to the suppression of tropical cyclone activity, while La Nina conditions could potentially allow for heightened tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin.
(2) Warmer than average sea surface temperatures are expected in the Atlantic Basin, which tends to favour hurricane development.
What Does this Mean for Belize?
Seasonal predictions give us an indication of how active a particular hurricane season is expected to be, but they do not tell us when a particular hurricane will develop or where it will track once developed. One or more of the 14 to 21 named storms forecast to develop this season could hit the country, or none at all. Therefore, as a nation located in an area vulnerable to the hazards posed by tropical cyclones, we should be prepared each year no matter what the forecast is.
The team of experts at the National Meteorological Service of Belize (NMS) in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, will use all assets at its disposal to monitor and track developing systems and alert the National Emergency Management Organization-NEMO and the general public in a timely manner should any system pose a threat to Belize.
In order to better serve the Belizean public with more precise, relevant and user-friendly information, starting on June 1, 2022, the Department will be launching a 24-hour forecast for the major municipalities across the country. The Department will also be issuing a more detailed and graphically enhanced once-weekly tropical weather outlook. This product will be updated more frequently if a system is posing a direct threat to the country. These new products will be available at the Departmentís website at www.nms.gov.bz.
The NMS and NEMO take this opportunity to advise members of the general public to review their family emergency plans and to be prepared for any eventuality during the 2022 Hurricane Season. The public is also reminded that it is an offence to share false information. Only official information from the NMS and NEMO should be followed.