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Oct 5, 2000

Chief meteorologist recalls Keith’s path

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During this and every other recent hurricane season we take their expertise for granted, but in the aftermath of a major storm we have to give special thanks to the dedicated professionals at the Meteorological Office. For those viewers who were a little too agitated to clearly recall Keith’s chronology, we called on Chief Meteorologist Carlos Fuller to run through it after the fact.

Carlos Fuller, Chief Meteorologist

“The system that eventually became Keith developed into a tropical depression late Thursday afternoon. All indications were that it was showing the potential for development. And that movement would be toward the Northwest with a possible entry into the gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Peninsula or going over western Cuba. It did make that drift toward the Northwest and by late Friday afternoon it had become a tropical storm. During Friday we had issued a small craft warning and eventually upgraded it to a small craft advisory, advising all small craft in the coastal waters of Belize to seek safe harbour. There were many instances when people who called us from offshore islands asking us about this system, we advised them that any movement had to be on Friday. Because the swells which would be generated by the system would have created very rough conditions on Saturday. And so any movement on Saturday would have been impossible. So movement had to occur on Friday and many people took note of that. For example there were foreign troops practicing kayaking offshore Belize and they did come in aware of that. Unfortunately many people did not get that message and remained on the islands.

“Very early on Saturday morning the track of Keith indicated that it had taken a more westward track compared to the northwest which had been expected. And as a result, early on Saturday morning, the deputy chief meteorologist called me, advising me about that fact. And we immediately called NEMO and recommended that we go into a warning for the country of Belize. NEMO throughout the entire episode listened very openly to the advice given by the Met service, and I believe followed our advice to the letter. As a result, I believe we were spared much loss of life because of the quick reaction NEMO did to our warnings.”

“Keith underwent explosive development. I received a message from the director of the hurricane center, consequent to this episode indicating that never before in history had they seen a tropical storm develop into a category four hurricane within that time period. So this was unprecedented development.”

“The eye crossed over San Pedro, went over Caye Caulker 2 or 3 times during Sunday, Monday, until Tuesday it crossed San Pedro for the last time in a northwestward track, and a position put it between the coastline of Corozal district and Ambergris Caye. It then made land fall and crossed Orange Walk Town and we know the eye did cross Orange Walk Town, they went calm for about two hours and it then crossed into Mexico near the vicinity of Douglas, crossed Yucatan and died down into a tropical depression.”

Keith is still kicking up dust, however, having emerged on the gulf side of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has since regathered its strength and at newstime had already made landfall near Tampico, Mexico with winds of 90 miles per hour.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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