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“Extremely active” hurricane season ahead

Headline“Extremely active” hurricane season ahead

Forecasters expect more storms than usual for the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 8, 2024

Belizeans are being advised to prepare for an intense 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Forecasters have released the official roster of storm names and are cautioning residents of an “extremely active” season ahead.

During the season, spanning from June 1st to November 30th, there could be up to 23 named storms.

The names outlined for these storms are Alberto, Helene, Oscar, Beryl, Isaac, Patty, Chris, Joyce, Rafael, Debby, Kirk, Sara, Ernesto, Leslie, Tony, Francine, Milton, Valerie, Gordon, Nadine, and William.

Of these, 11 are likely to develop into major hurricanes with winds surpassing 75 mph, and half of them could become storms with winds exceeding 115 mph.

The last major hurricane to make landfall in the country was a Category 1 hurricane, named Lisa, which passed over Belize City in 2022, dumping approximately 6 inches of rain, and with winds of 80 mph.

The Belize Meteorological Office, in anticipation of the season, has begun ramping up its preparedness measures in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).

However, in an interview today, Belize’s Chief Meteorology Officer, Ronald Gordon, clarified that an early indication for an active hurricane season does not necessarily mean that a storm is bound to hit Belize.

“That forecast is, of course, early. It’s preliminary. We’re in April. And from what we have seen in the past, there is some limited skills to those early season forecasts,” he said. “Notwithstanding that, CSQ (Creston Municipal Airport Weather & Forecast) has indicated that they have an above normal confidence in this particular forecast,” he added.

According to Gordon, the likelihood of an active season is influenced by two primary factors: the current higher-than-average sea surface temperatures, and the anticipated shift from El Niño to La Niña conditions.

He explained that, although the forecast suggests a busy season for the entire Atlantic Basin, not every storm poses a threat to Belize. Yet, with an above-average number of predicted storms, the chance of one nearing Belize is higher than usual—rising from the average probability of 42% to 60% this year.

“The figures that I had from CSU as well is that the typical average for us getting a named storm within 50 miles of our coastline, on average is 42%. This year is at 60%. So there’s a higher probability that there’s a storm coming nearer to us,” Gordon stated.

For context, historically, an average of 14 named storms form each season, with seven developing into hurricanes, and three into major hurricanes.

The National Meteorological Service of Belize is in active collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization and the National Hurricane Center to better prepare for the upcoming season.

Belizeans are encouraged to have and study their hurricane plan, and stay informed by following updates from the National Meteorological Service of Belize on their official FaceBook page.

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