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Oct 24, 2011

Hurricane Rina eyes Belize

There’s a hurricane watch in effect tonight from Belize City to the north. At this time, NEMO has declared red one. Tropical Depression number eighteen formed on Sunday afternoon and by the end of the day, it was named Tropical Storm Rina. This afternoon, Rina intensified even further to a category one hurricane and the forecast is that it will strengthen to a category three by the time it passes Belize. And while it may not make landfall in Belize, hurricane Rina is expected to affect the northern districts and the cayes later this week. Weather Forecaster, Frank Tench, spoke to News Five shortly before Rina was upgraded from tropical storm to a hurricane today.

Frank Tench, Weather Forecaster, National Met Service

“Tropical Storm Rina formed yesterday from a depression. At this moment it’s a tropical storm with maximum winds of forty-five miles per hour and heading in a north westerly direction. It’s currently located northeast of Cape Gracias a Dios and the current model forecast has it on a trajectory headed north west in the general direction of Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula.”

Delahnie Bain

Frank Tench

“Okay, so the threat would be more to northern Belize?”

Frank Tench

“Currently, on its current path, the threat seems greatest for the northern districts at this time.”

Delahnie Bain

“Do we know how—how soon is it expected to start to affect the country?”

Frank Tench

“We could start to expect influences from the tropical storm as early as Wednesday evening and going into Thursday. Those influences would be in terms of an increase in coastal rainfall and showers, especially for the areas like the cayes, the northern coastal districts and as far south as Belize City.”

Delahnie Bain

“Is it expected to be stronger when it reaches here; to form into a hurricane or anything?”

Frank Tench

“The current forecast suggests this storm could very well intensify to hurricane intensity as it nears the coast of Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula. Of course, intensity forecasts vary from day to day so we’re really not too sure where it will intensify into a hurricane. But conditions are favorable for further intensification at this time.”

Delahnie Bain

“Is there anything else the public should know about this system?”

Frank Tench

“Well, of course you need to monitor closely the progress of this storm through the usual media channels—radio and television—because of the fact that this storm does pose a threat to the country of Belize and the public should be aware in the event that we’re faced with the worst case scenario.”

In an update issued this afternoon by the National Emergency Management Organization, Hurricane Rina is located about three hundred and fifty miles east southeast of Belize and is heading northwest at five miles per hour. The maximum sustained winds have increased to seventy-five miles per hour. According to NEMO, Water taxi operations will be suspended on Tuesday to accommodate the possible evacuation of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Schools will be closed on both islands and if needed, the UB gymnasium in San Pedro and the UB Scarlet Macaw in Caye Caulker will be opened as shelters. Bus runs in northern Belize will also be suspended on Tuesday to assist with coastal to inland evacuation. This evening, the Ministry of Public Service requested that public officers assigned to shelter management duties are to report to the Belmopan Emergency Operations Center on Trinity Boulevard at six a.m. on Tuesday.

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