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Jun 1, 2007

Met Service prepares for hurricane season 2007

Story PictureFor the last six years, Belize has been spared the wrath of a hurricane, but at the start of this year’s season, weather experts are predicting an active five months that could very well end that trend. News Five’s Jacqueline Godwin reports.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
The 2007 hurricane season is predicted to be very active with an above normal number of tropical storms and hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Basin.

Ramon Frutos, Acting Chief Meteorologist
“One of the major influence is the warming of the sea surface temperatures; they are increasing and are relatively high for this time of the year. For example, in the Gulf of Honduras and the north-western Caribbean, where we are located, the sea surface temperature is already eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit and for a storm to develop you only need about eighty or eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit.”

According to acting Chief Meteorologist Ramon Frutos, prevailing predictions also indicate that this year will be one the warmest around the globe.

Ramon Frutos
“And we are already noticing that with the development of the first tropical storm, which was Andrea off the coast of the Carolinas.”

Normally there are eleven named storms in the hurricane season which runs from June first to November thirtieth. But this year, weather experts are forecasting that thirteen to seventeen systems will develop. Of that number, seven to ten storms are expected to become hurricanes with three to five becoming intense or major events. Frutos explains that while an El Niño phenomenon kept activity down last year, this season will be very different.

Ramon Frutos
“It’s very unlikely that an El Niño or warming of the Pacific Ocean will occur suddenly because usually it comes in cycles of every five to seven years and we had a fairly strong El Niño developing last year around the peak of our hurricane season and that’s one of the reasons why we had a lower than normal or an inactive season last year.”

The National Meteorological service is advising Belizeans to be prepared against the catastrophic loss caused by hurricanes.

Ramon Frutos
“The message we want to convey to the public in this region, in the Atlantic Basin is that it does not matter if this season is going to be an active season or inactive season, what matters is that we should be prepared because it only takes on storm to damage the economy of a small developing country or a small island in the Caribbean.”

“We need each and every family in this country to make the extra sacrifice to see how they can get their little provisions together—we call it provisions—your little stack of food, can foods and water and things like that, try to get a little at a time.”

And while Belizeans are being advised to start reviewing hurricane emergency plans and stockpile supplies, the National Meteorological Service is making sure that they too are ready for any emergencies.

Ramon Frutos
“The telecommunications system, we have upgraded it also. We are connected via internet through B.T.L., but we also have a satellite connection also for internet. So in the event that B.T.L. goes down and we lost that option for communication, then we have the second option, which would be the satellite link.”

Throughout the hurricane season the Met office will be reminding Belizeans of the importance of being prepared through a publicity and information campaign. Jacqueline Godwin for News Five.

The National Meteorological Service is still without a radar this season; however Frutos says that the department is expecting to receive a Doppler radar in eighteen months time, just before the 2008 Hurricane Season. The absence of the equipment is not expected to affect forecasts.

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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