Bye Bye Ernesto !!! Or Is It? Print E-mail
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Thursday, 09 August 2012 00:00

Satellite image of Hurricane ErnestoSunday morning most of the weather models agreed that Tropical Storm Ernesto’s destination was somewhere between Belize City and Corozal Town. There were a few naysayers.  Nevertheless, Ernesto’s flirtation with Belize is over! Or is it?  Belizeans were having none of that, and like Hurricane Dean of 2007, Ernesto moved on to wreak havoc on the quiet lovely Mexican Town called Mahajual.

At 9:00 a.m. August 8th, 2012, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) declared the ALL CLEAR for entire Belize.  In our organization, we were aware of the likelihood of Ernesto well in advance of its announced formation and immediately commenced our planning for the eventuality.  This advantage allowed us to be super ready and the implementation of our hurricane plan was smooth and almost flawless.  I sure hope that most Belizeans, businesses, and organizations hurricane plans were implemented with the same or better efficiency.

I had the privilege of volunteering to go back to my old office and assist in the preparation of flood forecasts for Ernesto.  We got out two forecasts to NEMO.  Despite the elapsed time between these forecasts and my last, I believe we did a fair enough job.  The National Meteorological Services forecasts and radar images were very useful, not only to us and other Belizeans, but to our neighbours and the Miami and Atlanta-based hurricane experts as well.  Did you see Weather Channel using Belize’s radar images?  Congrats to the NMS and NEMO.

As we all know, it rains and then it floods.  The actual rainfall causes the floods.  The weather advisories were saying that Ernesto would dump 4 to 8 inches of rain, and at times up to 12 inches.  All the rainfall numbers are not in yet, but I think it is safe to say we did not get the rain.  I was praying for the rain over the Macal River.  It would have increased the reservoir level at Chalillo, interrupt traffic over the San Ignacio low-level bridge and the residents would have been upset, but BEL would have been happy.  Rain over the Guatemalan portion of Mopan watershed was just enough to cause a slight rise in river levels, and it appears that there will be no floods on the Mopan.  No flood on the Macal River and a ripple on the Mopan River, a very small ripple, if any, will pass through the Belize River Valley.

Then after all, Ernesto passed over the Northern Districts and there is where we should see flooding.  So far the rains have caused a small rise in levels on the Rio Hondo near Blue Creek, Santa Cruz, San Antonio, San Roman, and Douglas Villages.  This increase is expected to continue over the next two days, but no flooding is expected.  The New River as usual does not respond to small amounts of rain and is expected to rise slightly and will not flood as result of rains associated with Ernesto.

Surprisingly, the much removed Monkey River responded to rain from Ernesto’s feeder bands and has increased to above its normal level for August and is expected to continue to rise to below flood levels.  Most of the rivers in the south, though affected by Ernesto’s feeder bands, did not get enough rain to cause any flood events.
So it looks like BYE BYE ERNESTO!