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Oct 29, 1999

Tropical Storm Katrina heading for Belize?

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Just when we thought the hurricane season had calmed down, today yet another tropical depression was upgraded to a tropical storm, and it’s in the same general area where Mitch became a hurricane last year. At three o’clock this evening, the fifteenth tropical depression of the season was officially named Tropical Storm Katrina. The storm is near the coast of Nicaragua and is moving in a northwesterly direction. Although Katrina is expected to weaken to a depression as it moves over Nicaragua and Honduras, the system may regain strength as it enters the Bay of Honduras. From there, no one can be sure where Katrina will go.

Justin Hulse, Chief Meteorologist

“At this time the track of it is not certain. It is expected to continue in a northwest direction. Whether that northwestern track will bring it directly over Belize, east of Belize or very far east of Belize, at this time it is uncertain because we are far away; we are several days away from it passing.”

Q: “When it is in the Bay of Honduras, will it gain strength?”

Justin Hulse

“It will go up back. It will get a little bit stronger because it will be over warmer waters again.”

Q: “And so I am just trying to get this clear Justin, there is a possibility it may then become a storm before… is that correct?”

Justin Hulse

“Your reasoning is correct. Probably on the advice of this office the Prime Minister may declare a preliminary phase sometime tomorrow.

I think that the deterioration in the weather is very likely, a lot of rainfall. If where you are is at risk, I think you should try moving somewhere higher. We’re expecting a lot of rainfall and flashfloods may result over Belize. This is the major result of this thing.

The winds could be as high as fifty miles an hour but very near the center, if it did come to that. Right now we feel that when it passes over Honduras and Nicaragua the land will weaken it quite a bit and then we will wait and see with what intensity it is going to come over.”

Q: “When it is in the Bay of Honduras?”

Justin Hulse

“That’s right.”

Q: “Who will be most affected, people living along the coast and low lying areas?”

Justin Hulse

“If it comes as a depression, it would be the mainland because of the rainfall. The cayes would be more affected by wind. For the mainland it wouldn’t be from wind because right now we are expecting the wind to be as high as fifty miles an hour but for a small area. That doesn’t mean that the seas will not be rough and small crafts should not be on the sea. I am not saying that, you have to stay in port because it would be a tropical depression. It’s the rainfall that is going to do the damage and this will result in flooding.

If the track goes out to sea then Belize will be spared most of the activity, some rainfall, it depends. We are about two-three days away and there is a lot of uncertainty in the track. It could also be reverse, a path directly over Belize which would definitely produce the flooding.”

Hulse says the main effects from the system, if it does affect Belize as a depression, will be a lot of rain and flooding. The public is being advised to remain calm and keep informed by television and radio reports for the progress of Tropical Storm Katrina.

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