The Belize National Meteorological Service has received the 2016 Hurricane Forecast released by Colorado State University. There are usually a number of different forecast that are usually released. However, Belize’s Meteorological Service heavily relies on the forecast from the Colorado State University. This year’s forecast is for twelve named systems, and from those twelve, five are expected to become hurricane and from those five, two are expected to become major hurricanes. The predictions for this year are lower than normal. Chief Meteorologist Dennis Gonguez, spoke about the only downfall about the forecast.
“That is the issue with these forecasts they don’t tell where landfall will be so that is where we the users of these forecasts we have to be more careful and more vigilant because the forecasts do not tell where the systems will make landfall so that is where we have to become more vigilant and we have to become more prepared because we do not know where these systems will make landfall. We have other agencies that produce seasonal outlooks, the Cuban Met service does, there are two agencies in the United Kingdom that produce seasonal outlooks, I guess they will be out in the next couple of weeks or so. We look at all of them and use them like a consensus of the forecast as a guidance, we don’t single out any particular one however Colorado State University has been doing a fairly good job and we tend to bias toward them because of their experience in creating these seasonal outlooks but all in all we look at the entire gamut of outlooks as produced by the different agencies.”
The Meteorological service uses the off season to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season. When the hurricane forecast is released, meteorologists use it as a guideline for preparations.
“We use the 6 months from the end of November to the first of June to prepare for the upcoming season so the forecast just gives us more of a guidance of what we can expect. If we have an above average season predicted then you know that there is a higher likelihood of getting a hit in any particular area. Last year was rather quiet because of the El Nino phenomenon which dampened out most activity in this part of the world however the El Nino phenomenon will not be around come July of this year so we are looking at an average season. Another phenomenon that will impact this year’s season is that the cooler ocean temperatures in the Atlantic. Tropical cyclones get their energy from the warm ocean surface and with their predicted cool ocean surfaces in the Atlantic this year so we are just looking at this time at an average season.”
In the event of a hurricane detected near Belize, Gonguez says that the Meteorological Service goes into an emergency state before the country is warned.
“It only takes one; so even if it says that it’s going to be a very quiet season and you get one hurricane out of this quiet season that’s it for you. So we just have to be prepared, we have to continue to repeat preparedness. We have to be prepared for a hurricane regardless of what the prediction might say about it being a normal season we still have to be prepared because we could get on out of those that are predicted. The MET service goes into emergency before the country because we see the system developing or approaching us we go into emergency ahead of the country. As the system gets nearer we then advise NEMO that we need to get some activity because there is a likelihood of a threat so the MET Service has it’s own Hurricane Emergency Plan that is update every year that we use to guide us each Hurricane Season.”
Gonguez gave some precautionary tips on how to prepare your family and business for a hurricane while in the off season.
“At first you have to have your family plan; what will you do in the event of hurricane, where will you go, you have to plan what time you will leave to go to shelter so that you don’t get caught out there when the system is approaching so all that you have to have a personal plan and you have to have a family plan of what you will do and what you will take with you when go to shelter. If you own a business then you also have a business plan that you have to use to take care of the business. You have to have your plan in place and we should use the off season to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.”
The Hurricane season runs from June to November.