Hurricane Facts & Tips - Atlantic Hurricane Season Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 July 2017 00:00

July Cyclones

Week 7 - 21– 31 July 2017

During 1851- 2016 there were forty-eight (48) Atlantic July cyclones during 21- 31 July.  Thirteen (13) formed in the Atlantic Ocean Main Development Region (MDR), eighteen (18) in the Gulf of Mexico, fourteen (14) in the vicinity of the Bahamas and along the U.S. eastern seaboard and three (3) in the Mid Atlantic Ocean.  It is noteworthy that zero (0) cyclones formed in the Western Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Anna was the only cyclone that affected Belize and its coastal waters during 21 -31 July.  Anna was the first storm of the 1961 Hurricane season and the single July cyclone for 1961.  In 1961 there were eleven (11) cyclones, nine (9) Hurricanes and two (2) Tropical Storms. In 1961 there was 1 CAT 1, 3 CAT 3 and 2 CAT 5 Hurricanes and 2 Tropical Storms.  There was no June nor August cyclones in 1961.

As all Belizeans know too well 1961 was a devastating year for Belize.  Two (2) of the 11 cyclones impacted Belize and its coastal waters, Hurricane Anna and Hurricane Hattie.  We will discuss Hattie in October.  Let’s turn our attention to Anna.

Features:  1961 Hurricane Anna July 20 - 24

Anna formed in the western MDR from a tropical wave as Tropical Storm on July 20th just north of the Island of Tobago.  Anna proceeded on its three-day Trans Caribbean journey, aiming for Cape Gracias a Dios on the Honduran Caribbean shoreline.  It trekked south of Grenada and skirted Venezuela’s La Orchila Island and Isla de Blanquilla around midday, when it intensified to a CAT 1 Hurricane.  Hurricane Anna traversed the southern Caribbean Sea skirting the Netherlands Antilles passing just north of Aruba around midnight on July 21st when it was upgraded to a CAT 2 Hurricane.  Anna continued to strengthen and 12 hours later at midday on 21st July was further upgraded to a CAT 3 Hurricane. Anna was at its strongest at 6 a.m. on July 22nd when its central pressure fell to 976 millibars and sustained winds was at 100 knots.

Anna maintained CAT 3 status as it approached Cape Gracias a Dios when it was weakened to a CAT 2 Hurricane and crossed the Honduran coastline near Barra Patuca.  Anna travelled along the Honduran coastline entering the Gulf of Honduras near Punta Piedra.  It passed through the Bay Islands between Roataan and Utila Islands.  This Cat 2 Hurricane now aimed at the Belizean coastline

As it approached the Belizean barrier reef, Anna weakened to a CAT 1 Hurricane and crossed the reef passing through Gladden’s Entrance in the Gladden’s Split/Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.  Around 6 a.m. on 24 July Anna, packing sustained winds of 70 knots and a central pressure of 989 millibars, crossed the Placencia Peninsula near Maya Beach, and travelled overland over San Roman Village on the southern highway, and then headed into the Maya Mountains where it dissipated around midday on 24th July as a Tropical Depression in the Chiquibul Forest in the vicinity of Esperanza Camp near the Belize Guatemala border.

There were no deaths in Belize, since in 1961, Anna’s path was sparsely populated.  Reportedly, there was extensive damages in Punta Gorda Town and the Belize City seawall was damaged. In Honduras, in Limon 9 homes were destroyed and 18 buildings were damaged, one death was reported, and on the Island of Utila, 5000 coconut trees were uprooted.  The damage caused by Hurricane Anna was estimated as $300,000.00 in US dollars.  The majority of this damage was in Honduras.


This Week’s Hurricane Tips

If Winds Become Strong…

1. Stay away from windows and doors, even if they are covered.

a. Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway.

2. Close all interior doors.

3. Secure all external doors.

4. If you are in a multi-storey building.

a. Go to 1st or 2nd floor interior rooms.

b. Stay away from windows.

5. Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object.

(Stay tuned for Week 8 Hurricane Facts & Tips)