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May 31, 1999

Active hurricane season predicted

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If things had gone differently, right now we would still be rebuilding Belize instead of making preparations for the next round of storms to blow through. The 1999 Hurricane Season begins tomorrow and luckily for us, we not only have our homes this year, but some valuable insight into what we would do differently to protect our families. And from what one of our friends at the MET Office tells us, hurricane prediction is still not an exact science, so it pays to stay prepared, particularly when La Niña weather conditions are still around.

It is the time of year most Belizeans have feared since Mitch’s flirting dance with our country last year. According to Acting Chief Meteorologist Justin Hulse, forecasters expect quite an active season this year.

Justin Hulse, Ag. Chief Meteorologist

“We are still in the La Niña condition. When we are in the El Niño condition, the Pacific Ocean is warmer than average and there are strong winds in the Caribbean and these hinder the development of thunderstorms. The El Niño condition produces lower hurricane activity. However, since last year we are in the La Niña condition which does not effect hurricane development so they grow freely and hurricane activity is above normal.”

According to the yearly predictions made by Colorado State University, fourteen storms are predicted to develop this season in the Atlantic-Caribbean basin. Nine of these will strengthen into hurricanes and at least four are expected to become as intense as 1961′s Hurricane Hattie, or even stronger. Although the Weather Bureau says such predictions are generally fairly accurate in terms of the number of storms, the path of hurricanes is still anybody’s guess.

Justin Hulse

“We can predict the amount but we have no idea which place is going to be hit or when they are going to hit or if they are going to hit any at all. There are fourteen storms likely to develop in the Caribbean. We do not know which one will hit Belize; we just have to prepare.”

The best thing you can do is to move from low-lying areas near the sea or rivers to inland areas. Hulse also recommends that you carry a few essential things.

Justin Hulse

“Things you should carry: food, baby food, pampers, enough water, flashlight for lighting – and they prefer a flashlight because candles may cause the risk of fire – a battery radio to listen to LOVE FM and things like that.”

So, with the opening of the hurricane season you may want to start stocking the cupboards and making your family evacuation plan. Other than that, all we can do is hold our breaths until the end of the season on November 30th. Arreini Palacio for News Five.

The names chosen for the storms this year are Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Floyd, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lenny, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma.

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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