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Jan 10, 2018

Did Belizeans Confuse Tsunami Threat for ‘Spring Tide?’

Catherine Cumberbatch

Adding to the frenzy following the offshore tremor was the perceived recession of seawater ahead of a resulting tsunami.  As we said, it turns out that a phenomenon known as a spring tide has been occurring for the past several days, prior to the earthquake.  Many took to social media to post images, as well as footage of coastal locations, including the areas in front of the Bliss and the Port of Belize, where the sea ebbed from the shoreline.  Today, Chief Meteorologist Catherine Cumberbatch explained the scientific reason for the recession and she says it had nothing to do with the recorded seismic activity.


Catherine Cumberbatch, Chief Meteorologist

“What happens when we have a spring tide?  That is when the sun, the moon and the earth are all aligned together, and in that alignment their gravitational force under water is extremely high and that is when we have what is called a spring tide.  And a spring tide means that the difference between the high tide and the low tide is at its greatest difference, it’s a huge difference.  In a normal, let’s say Isani, that the difference between a normal high and a low tide, say, this is just an example, is 0.5 meters, just for say, now in a spring tide that might be three or four times.  So when you see a low tide because the difference is why you see the water receding.  I go to run every morning, I go to fast walk every morning and whenever you are having this low tide, you can see all the rocks out by Swing Bridge there because the water is receding.  But because we know that whenever you have a tsunami, a tsunami watch, one of the first indicators of a tsunami is that that water would recede.  So that phenomenon was happening before the earthquake and the tsunami warning was issued to Belize, but nobody was paying attention except for a few people.  So when the public ventured out there, because they were also nosey, when they ventured out there they see the water receding, so they said, “Oh gosh, this is reality.”  The tsunami wave is, the tsunami is coming.”

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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