Record-Breaking Hurricane Season Predicted: NEMO Urges Preparation

Record-Breaking Hurricane Season Predicted: NEMO Urges Preparation

With 57 days left before the start of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season, weather experts are now projecting that this year will be one for the record books. Researchers from Colorado State University released the seasonal forecast today, which calls for twenty-three named storms, and eleven hurricanes, five of which are expected to be major. Record high sea surface temperatures and the possibility of the La Nina weather phenomenon, are major factors at play in the forecast. But what does this mean for Belize? The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) says that preparation, even at this stage, is critical for Belize. National Emergency Coordinator Daniel Mendez explained that the past several seasons were forecast to be highly active and that NEMO has been working consistently to ensure that everything is in place come June 1.

Daniel Mendez, National Coordinator, National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO): “Well, as you see, the forecast is indicating that we should be expecting an active hurricane season. So for us the messaging is not any different from what we do every year. We know that all it takes for Belize is one hurricane. So we need to always be prepared and we need to always understand that once we reach the month of June this is when we need to start to be aware and start to prepare. And actually, NEMO’s work does not stop and so we don’t take a pause in our work. So at the beginning of the hurricane season we will have done a whole a big series of activities that lead us into the hurricane season to make sure that we are as prepared as possible throughout the season. We maintain vigilance and we remain prepared to respond to any system that heads our way. And then at the end of the season, of course, then we have to do our own after actions and review and to determine what we did well, what didn’t we do well, where can we strengthen to prepare for the next season? And so for us, it’s important to make sure that we keep that cycle going and the disaster management cycle is just that. There’s a whole season of preparedness. There’s a season of mitigation and then the response and then recovery phase. And so for us at NEMO the work continues and so while the hurricane season is within two months actually our work has begun from November 30th our work has started for hurricane season 2024.”

Mendez says that a key part of the preparatory work is training and public awareness; two things that NEMO will be emphasizing heavily leading up to the start of the season. 

Daniel Mendez, National Coordinator, National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO): “So the training actually is several layers of training. First, we have to work on ourselves to make sure that we are up to date and that we are as best trained as possible within ourselves before we attempt anything else. Secondly is then reaching out to the government partners, the public servants who will be the ones who are actually going out into the field whenever there is the need for for any activation. So we have to ensure public officers are trained and receive the best training possible. And then thirdly, the issue of public awareness and providing that training for the public is important. So we have to make sure that we provide accurate information to the public. We need to make sure that we keep on providing timely updates and things that people need for their own planning, for their own preparedness. And then providing continuous and constant updates throughout the season. So this is how we have been preparing internally for the season. Yeah, the information that we provide will continue to be the same. The need to prepare, the need to create your own family plan. That is what we are going to be continuing to stress for the rest of the season. We have to be prepared. We have to ensure that we know what we’re going to do when something happens. What is your family plan? Where are you going to go? What equipment do you have? Have you made the necessary preparations? And do you have things like your family kits? Do you have your flash light, your radios things like that? So those are the things that we will be continuing to stress to the public, the need to remain vigilant and to understand that we can’t take any of these of these systems lightly. A tropical storm can be just as severe as a category three storm, depending on where it affects you. So we must always be prepared. And you’ve seen in the past seasons where storms have become unpredictable. So we cannot take anything for granted and we must always be prepared for anything. So once a system is in the area, once our partner the MET Service alerts us that messaging to the public must continue. We have to prepare, we have to know what we need to do.”

The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season saw a total of 20 named storms and seven hurricanes, tying with 1993 as the fourth most active season on record. While Belize saw various instances of flooding last year, none of the seven hurricanes made landfall in Belize.

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