It Only Takes One Storm, Get Ready Belize!!! Print E-mail
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Written by By Rudolph Williams   
Thursday, 24 May 2018 00:00

The start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season is almost here, and it is time to review and revise your Family Hurricane Plan.  Remember June to November is the official Hurricane Season.

The Colorado State University (CSU), University College of London (TSR), North Carolina State University (NCSU), The Weather Channel (TWC), and AccuWeather have issued their pre-season predictions on the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season activity.  The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is expected to issue their pre-season predictions later this month.  Whilst we appreciate these predictions and hope that our little Belize will be spared the wrath of these cyclones, we know that the predictions are based on science and we are also aware that weather predictions are definitely not an exact science.  Weather predictions have improved significantly with the advancements in technology that have made high resolution monitoring, analyses and modeling of weather conditions possible.

What the 1981 – 2010 record shows is that on average we can expect 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.  The pre-season predictions for the 2018 Atlantic tropical activity varies slightly. There is general consensus that 2018 will be slightly above normal. The TSR is the only agency that is predicting a slightly below that normal hurricane season.  The TSR predicts that there will be 12 Named Storms, 6 Hurricanes and 2 Major Hurricanes.

Many factors are considered when preparing these predictions.  Amazingly, the oscillation of the Pacific Ocean temperature between El Niño and La Niña conditions impacts the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index (ACE) in the Atlantic. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.  Also a colder than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean provide less fuel for tropical cyclone formation and intensification.  Forecasters believe that there is the potential for a weak El Niño to develop.  The eastern Atlantic Ocean temperature is currently colder than normal.  There is also the North Atlantic Oscillation of the high pressure system which influences the wind direction, wind shear, and the ocean temperature.  Historical information on seasons with similar pre-season conditions are also factored into the predictions.  CSU’s Professor Phil Klotzbach research indicates that the 2018 hurricane season is exhibiting near normal characteristics similar to 1960, 1967, 2006, and above normal characteristics similar to 1996 and 2011 seasons.

The predictions may appear a little fuzzy at this time, however there is a lot of variations between the seasons.  In 1914, there was only 1 Tropical Storm for the entire season while in 2005 there were 28 storms. Earliest storm ever was on January 3 in 1938 and latest forming storms were Tropical Storms Zeta and Hurricane Alice on December 30 in 2005 and 1954 respectively.

The people and machines who predict hurricanes have varying degrees of success.  Last year the United States of America’s National Hurricane Center forecast 11 to 17 Named Storms, 5 to 9 Hurricanes and 4 or 5 Major Hurricanes.  The 2017 season had 17 major storms, 10 hurricanes and 6 major hurricanes.  Impressive predictions.  We await their 2018 pre-season predictions.  There were some terrible storms during last year’s hurricane season and as is customary those storms that wreaked death and destruction are taken of the rotating list of names.  The World Meteorological Organization Hurricane Committee has retired the names, Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate and replace them with Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

Belizeans despite the extensive research, super computing systems, high resolution monitoring, satellite tracking, and modeling of the atmosphere, these predictions are no indications of where these storms will form or which particular country will be affected.  According to CSU researchers average chance for the Caribbean to be impacted by a cyclone for the last century is 42 percent, this year it is 52 percent.  CSU will update its prediction on May 31, July 2 and August 2.

It only takes one storm, Get Ready Belize!!!

1. Plan your evacuation.

2. Buy your Hurricane supplies.

3. Check your insurance coverage.

4. Make copies of important documents.

5. Protect your home.

6. Listen to and follow NEMO’s instructions

Avoid the following myths

1. Taping windows will prevent hurricane-force winds from shattering them.

2. NEMO issued an evacuation order, but the weather looks fine. There’s no rush to leave town.

3. I do not live on the coast so I face no threat from a hurricane.