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Aug 22, 2011

Experts say water spout not slow tornado in Crooked Tree

Tropical Storm Harvey turned out, fortunately, to be more bark than bite on Saturday. The big news coming out of the storm were claims that tornados had ripped through the villages of Crooked Tree and San Lazaro in the north. There was an air of both excitement and despair; excitement because tornados are unknown in these parts, and despair because there were damages to at least five houses in its path. But was it really tornados caught on the video that was immediately posted on Facebook. News Five has been following the story since Saturday. Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The news and images of a tornado in northern Belize District spread almost as quickly as the weather system swept through Crooked Tree Village on Saturday morning. But it turns out that the conditions for the formation of a tornado do not exist in Belize… so what was it?

Dennis Gonguez

Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorologist

“That tornado like structure—the tropical cyclone is a large circulating vortex and within that large circulating vortex there are smaller vertices or circulations and that quite possibly could have been one of those smaller circulations within the large tropical cyclone circulation.”

Frank Tench, Meteorologist

“If you notice the footage, the vortex is surviving while it’s over water. But watch in the last few seconds here, just as it goes over land it fizzles out, which is one reason we feel fairly convinced it was not a tornado. A water spout most likely and water spouts do occur quite often along our coastal waters several times during the year.”

While the phenomenon was not as severe as a tornado, it caused more damage than Tropical Storm Harvey. Eighty-seven year old Emma Westby barley escaped injury when the first water spout formed at Crooked Tree.

Emma Westby, Crooked Tree Village Resident

Emma Westby

“I heard this big breeze; I thought it was the storm. I heard my husband shout and by the time I reach the door from the kitchen to come in, it seemed like everything done and when I swing around and look, a stick almost hit me in my head out of the kitchen and the kitchen door slammed and the breeze suddenly gone, just like that.  I started to cry for my son and my daughter-in-law in that board house over there; I thought they were dead. I went to the back door and I move the zinc from across the door and I went over to their house and there I met my daughter-on-law crying.”

Emma’s house had minor damages, but her son and daughter-in-law lost their home and all their belongings in a matter of seconds.

Maurice Westby Jr.

Maurice Westby Jr., Crooked Tree Village Resident

“He saw some dark clouds and he closed the door back. And by the time he closed the door, the back glass window popped. That’s right by his bed. His wife was on the bed so his wife got up to hold the window and he told her not to try to hold the window because the rest of panes might break. And by the time he said that, he was on the ground; on his back as quick as that. Ten seconds, he said it was ten seconds and by the time he came to himself, he said he didn’t know what hit him. If it was the power of the wind or when the house exploded. But his wife was crying because the back wall fell on her and he got up and pushed the back wall off. That’s the damage that you see in the background.  Thank God, none of them were injured but everything fell around them as you can see from the damage on the house; everything fell. The refridge, the stove was broken up. Everything was broken.”

By eleven o’clock, the residents of San Lazaro Village, Orange Walk also experienced what they believed was a tornado.

Henry Lopez

Henry Lopez, San Lazaro Resident

“All of a sudden I saw some zinc flying over by the street and then I noticed that breeze was coming; hard breeze. So I called on my family and told them close the door, close everything. All of a sudden we heard the big noise coming and we could hardly close the door and windows because of the strong breeze.”

Henry Lopez says that his home was spared, but his brother and neighbor have some rebuilding to do.

Henry Lopez

“The zinc on the front verandah, all of that fly out in pieces. It was like in four pieces.”

Delahnie Bain

“Did you have any other houses damaged in the area?”

Henry Lopez

“Yes, about two houses from here we had another one. The walls of the—one side of the wall dropped on top of the belongings of the family in there.”

Delahnie Bain

“And there were in there?”

Henry Lopez

“Yes, there was a lady with two kids. She heard like something was about to drop from the house so she hurry dropped the babies and came out. After she had moved the babies, the wall dropped on the bed.”

But help is on the way for the affected families, according to NEMO Coordinator, Noreen Fairweather.

Noreen Fairweather, NEMO Coordinator3

Noreen Fairweather

“We have people out there in the field looking at what happened and so we will be making an assessment and subsequently determine in what way we can assist. At the end of the day, these are the homes of those people and so we will determine after we get that report to see how we can assist them to get back on their feet.”

Delahnie Bain 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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2 Responses for “Experts say water spout not slow tornado in Crooked Tree”

  1. rg says:

    nope dont believe that….tornados are caused when warm air meets colder air- as in the case of a cold front …this is what causes them in the US. If we have cold fronts that affect belize, we can then have conditions that can create tornados.
    What causes tornadoes?

    “Tornadoes form in unusually violent thunderstorms when there is sufficient (1) instability and (2) wind shear present in the lower atmosphere.

    Instability refers to unusually warm and humid conditions in the lower atmosphere, and possibly cooler than usual conditions in the upper atmosphere. Wind shear in this case refers to the wind direction changing, and the wind speed increasing, with height. An example would be a southerly wind of 15 mph at the surface, changing to a southwesterly or westerly wind of 50 mph at 5,000 feet altitude.

    This kind of wind shear and instability usually exists only ahead of a cold front and low pressure system. ”

  2. KIKA says:

    that’s the same thing rg. Of course the wind changing direction caused by the increasing speed of that caused by the storm. simple. dnt catch pressure and try to correct the weather bureau announcer. keep calm ha.

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