Tropical Storm Lisa to strengthen; hurricane force winds expected by Wednesday night

Tropical Storm Lisa to strengthen; hurricane force winds expected by Wednesday night

Tonight all eyes are on Tropical Storm Lisa. On the 61st anniversary of Hurricane Hattie, Belize is gearing up for TS Lisa which is expected to hit Belize as a Category One hurricane. The Prime Minister today in his capacity as Chairman of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) declared a hurricane watch for the entire coast of Belize. The RED-1 flag is flying in several locations along the coast. This means that a tropical cyclone threatens the country and it is likely to make landfall within 36 to 48 hours. The public is advised to put their emergency disaster plans into effect, including preparations to voluntarily relocate to safe shelters if necessary. The authorities today hosted a press conference to bring the nation up to speed on preparedness. Dale McDougall reports.

People across the country are battening down the hatches and waiting with a collectively held breath on the arrival of Lisa. The system, which has tropical storm force winds, is expected to strengthen. Chief Meteorologist Ronald Gordon discussed what we can expect.

Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorologist: “Indications are that the environment will become a bit more moist and that the wind shear will slacken or weaken and allow the system to intensify gradually. There is the possibility that the system could be a category 1 hurricane at landfall on the coast of Belize. In terms of motion it is moving to the west currently but it is forecast to take a little more west to west northwestward track which will bring it past south of Jamaica today and south of Cayman and north of Honduras through Tuesday and approach Belize on Wednesday.”

With the expectation that this system can develop into a significant weather system, Gordon warns of coastal flooding. 

Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorologist: The impacts that we’re expecting is that the system will produce first of all rainfall in the amounts of two to four inches per day starting on Wednesday through to Wednesday night and Thursday. In terms of flooding that could result in flooding especially over low lying and flood prone areas and even more so considering the fact that we do have soils that are saturated from the recent events with Hurricane Julia. In addition to the rainfall and the flooding due to rainfall there is likely to be coastal flooding due to storm surge with about three to five feet possible especially to the north of the center of where the system makes landfall and that could result in like I said an increase in the level of flooding for coastal residents.”

The projections suggest landfall on the country’s coast with Belize City being one of the large population centres impacted. However, Gordon says that while that may be the case, everyone must keep their eyes and ears open. 

Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorologist: “Important for residents to note is that as the system gets nearer to Belize you will see the cone narrowing, that indicates that we are more clear of where it will make landfall however because the cone is narrow there will be locations within the country that will not be covered by the cone and the misconception that some people will get from that is that those areas will not be affected, it is important to note and we saw that with the situation in Florida that there will be impacts outside of that cone and hence the reason again why we want the residents across this entire country to be on the alert for this system as it approaches us and makes landfall on Belize like I said late Wednesday or into Thursday morning.”

Between now and then, everyone needs to get an evacuation plan ready to execute. NEMO National Coordinator, Colonel Shelton Defour repeated standard advice. 

Col. (Ret’d) Shelton Defour, NEMO National Coordinator: “The window of opportunity to make certain decisions closes or narrows every hour and so the islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker in their deliberation in terms of scenario planning they have to look at what time they would tell residents you need to evacuate and get off the island. Now to ensure we start that process we are imploring and informing the public that if you know you’re not in a safe place in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Belize City and you need to relocate and you know where you’re going put those plans in place one time.”

Minister responsible for Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet urged everyone to not panic but make the best decisions based on the information provided.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management: “Government would really like that our people listen to the advisories and take heed. Certainly with time being very timely with this. As mentioned there will be frequent reporting and advisories so people have to listen keenly.”

Tune in for frequent updates from NEMO and Met Office. In the meantime, do not panic. You got this. Dale McDougall, Love News. 

Public and private essential agencies, utility companies and non-essential agencies are expected to immediately implement plans of action. As for class sessions, the Ministry of Education announced that sessions for all schools are to be suspended from Tuesday, November 1, 2022, until further notice. The Ministry says that schools, especially schools that serve as hurricane shelters area sked to ensure that Hurricane plans are put into effect and all property and equipment are safely secured.

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