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Jun 2, 2008

Weather Bureau explains unusual event

Story PictureWhile most Belizeans only took notice of Arthur upon waking this morning, the folks at the Belize Weather Bureau were watching the satellite data closely for several days. Today News Five’s Kendra Griffith visited the Met Office for a better understanding of how we got hit so hard, so fast.

Ramon Frutos, Acting Chief Meteorologist (May 30, 2008)
“On the surface map tonight we have the remnants of Tropical Storm Alma edging its way north westward towards southern Belize.”

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
On Friday it was predicted that the remnants of Alma, a storm from the Pacific, would merge with an area of low pressure nearby, creating more rain for Belize over the weekend. According to Acting Chief Meteorologist Ramon Frutos, they, however, kept a close eye on the systems as conditions were right for some sort of development.

Ramos Frutos
“Because of its proximity to land, we were not expecting it to evolve rapidly into a tropical storm and basically that is what happened because conditions were very favourable in the upper atmosphere. Sea surface temperatures were high and what happened is that the remnants of Alma merged with a tropical wave that was moving across the north-western Caribbean and conditions then became very favourable for the evolution of this tropical storm.”

By ten-thirty Saturday morning, a centre was detected in northern Belize and Tropical Storm Arthur was born… a day before the start of the hurricane season. At noon, the first bulletin was issued.

Ramon Frutos
“After conferring with the CabSec in Belize, we decided to go along with the Hurricane Centre to declare a tropical storm warning for the coast of Belize and the coast of Yucatan. We were in a situation, a very, very unusual situation where a tropical storm actually developed over the country and gradually moved inland. However, because the system was so broad, we were not getting tropical storm force conditions right over Belize itself. The tropical storm force conditions were further out, almost a hundred miles or more.”

What Arthur did bring was rain and lots of it…

Ramon Frutos
“Rainfall over northern Belize since Thursday then was almost in excess of eleven inches in the Corozal and Consejo area. Most of that rainfall occurred on Saturday and Saturday night. Then rainfall activity shifted, the concentrated rainfall activity shifted over the central coast of Belize yesterday afternoon. We were experiencing squalling conditions here at the airport in excess of thirty-five knots, so conditions deteriorated very rapidly yesterday afternoon.”

Over ten inches of rain fell in the Belize District and the Stann Creek Valley, which of course led to severe flooding in areas across the country as rivers overflowed their banks.

Rudolph Williams, Hydrologist
“The Temash and the Sarstoon are below normal levels and are rising slowly. The Monkey River is above normal levels and it about to peak, as we know the Sittee River is flood state right now and the North Stann Creek, also, is in flood stage and rising. These are the major watersheds that we are having some serious flood incidents occurring.”

Ramon Frutos
“What we need to watch out for now, Kendra, is all that rain over Guatemala and Southern Mexico is still coming down and that will end up in the Rio Hondo and the New River, some tributaries of the New River will feed the New River with some of that rainfall, that run off. And so we will continue to see flooding situation increasing along the Rio Hondo and the new River in the next couple of days and in other parts of the country. For example, the Mopan River that has its origin in El Peten and all that water that fell over El Peten will be coming down the Mopan River also. So the Belize River will see water levels increasing in the next day or two also.”

According to Frutos, the moral of Tropical Storm Arthur is that it’s never too early to prepare for disaster.

Ramon Frutos
“It doesn’t matter if it’s an active season or an inactive season. It only takes on storm to cause devastation, to hurt us economically and socially. So we should always be prepared. It doesn’t matter what part of the season we are going through, we should be prepared because we could have a threat any time during the hurricane season.”

Projections for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season are for an active six months. Experts are predicting fifteen named storms, eight of which are expected to develop into hurricanes, while two to three will move across the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

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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