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Oct 24, 2017

City and Most of Belize under Deluge from Rains

In typical October style, the rains descended over the city and the western part of the country. Today, several schools sent students home and motorists and pedestrians had to navigate their way through streets with several inches of water. The downpour during this time is not unusual for October, but News Five’s Andrea Polanco spoke with the met service to find out what is causing these rains and how much more of it we can expect in the coming days. Here’s that story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Several inches of water covered streets across the city, as well as portions of the Philip Goldson Highway. Traffic moved slowly along the inundated streets – and pedestrians had no choice to but to traverse the dirty waters to get to their destinations. The water quickly spilled into residents’ yards, compounds of work places and even in schoolyards and buildings. Many schools affected by the water had to close early and send the students home. Climatologist Ronald Gordon explains the reason behind the rains that have caused the flooding.

 

Ronald Gordon

Ronald Gordon, Climatologist, National Met Service

“Over the weekend we have two tropical waves that crossed us and that was what supported the weather over the weekend. What we have now is a trough of low-pressure of us in the north-west Caribbean and then we have a front coming down, so, basically, we have moisture converging before this front along the trough and that is what has been creating all the weather that we have been having.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, as it relates to the rainfall; are you able to discuss with us the inches of rainfall we have seen across the country?”

 

Ronald Gordon

“First of all, here at the Airport starting since Sunday we have seen two point two inches; the twenty-third, we had three inches and on today, the twenty-fourth, we have three point five inches so far. So, that is a lot of rain. The rest of the country, when we look at this image here, we are only looking at rainfall for the past eighteen hours. Here at the airport we have had the highest with ninety point two millimeters. I have switched unit there with you. Even up to the western portions of the country, we are looking at fifty-five point four millimeters in Benque, so it has been countrywide but concentrated mostly along the northeast coast.”

 

A number of schools and businesses have closed their doors today in western Belize. The Iguana Creek Bridge in Spanish Lookout and the low-lying wooden bridge in Santa Elena-San Ignacio have closed to traffic.  While Cayo and Belize Districts are experiencing most of the flooding, low-lying areas and those who operate on the seas in other parts of Belize should also exercise caution. There will be more rains over the next twenty-four hours.

 

Ronald Gordon

“We are already experiencing flooding and that will continue. For the next 24 hours the chances of flooding are very high and like I mentioned we have had rainfall from since the weekend, as a matter fact, from last week so the soils are very saturated and with additional rainfall we expect that this will continue.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“For the next day or so?”

 

Ronald Gordon

“Precisely for the next twenty-four hours we expect additional rainfalls and then we expect a cold front to cross us and then tomorrow we have the front approaching the Yucatan. That front is going to cross us during the day and after it crosses us it will take most of the moisture out back to sea.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, the rain should slow down a bit?”

 

Ronald Gordon

“That’s right.  We expect cloudy, cool and windy conditions behind the front on Wednesday night and Thursday. It is one of those fronts that is not going to go too far so it will start back up and bring back moisture by Friday, so conditions should become a little bit more moist by Friday.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Considering that the flooding is concentrated in this part of the country, as well as the west, will the southern coastal areas experience any flooding [if it hasn’t arrived there as yet]? “

 

Ronald Gordon

“The possibility of flooding, the type of flooding that we expect down south is more flash flooding type near rivers and streams. So, that is quite likely to occur, indeed.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Now, for people going out to sea, are they supposed to exercise any degree of caution?”

 

Ronald Gordon

“Yes. We currently have a small craft caution in effect for gusty winds and occasionally rough seas near showers and thunderstorms. After the front crosses us tomorrow, I think winds are gonna become even gustier and stronger, so we might upgrade that to a warning at that time.”

 

And CEMO has been monitoring the rainfall. While families have not had to move out of their homes, CEMO says they have been visiting schools to see how best to assist. The City Council, through the flood mitigation project, hopes to use a newly acquired vacuum truck to clear out the drains to help reduce flooding in the city. But until that happens, a more permanent solution to the drainage problems in the city remains a work in progress.

 

Philip Willoughby

Philip Willoughby, CEMO, Belize City Council

“We are still out doing assessments in these high priority areas; schools, health centers, areas that people need access to government services, essential services, and by and large that is what we are doing by these high priority areas that face these flooding situations. So, to mitigate and facilitate the fast flow, smooth flow of runoff of all this water that has inundated the streets and affected the city. The weather has hold up a bit and with that we will have an excellent opportunity to see where an why for the reason being for these clogged drains not functioning properly or the manholes not functioning properly and then we will proceed to clean these drains and flush them out, as well as the culverts.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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