BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 20, 2020– We are headed into the teeth of the hurricane season, and while everyone is keeping their guard up to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 , the virus that causes COVID-19, our attention has expanded to include a bad weather system in the Caribbean that is headed in our direction. The National Meteorological Service of Belize (NMSB), in its report at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, said the weather system, Tropical Depression #14 (TD14), “was centered near latitude 15.1N, longitude 79.7W, or about 235 miles east of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border” and it “was moving to the West at 21 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.”
There have been eleven named storms already this year, and if TD 14 forms into a tropical storm, it will be named Laura, or Marco, depending on the progression of another bad weather system, Tropical Depression #13, which the NMSB says was, at 9:00 this morning, “centered near latitude 16.0N, longitude 52.0W, or about 750 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands” and “moving to the WNW at 21 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.”
Joe Mario Pederson, in the Orlando Sentinel, says the National Hurricane Center (NHC), of the United States, has issued a tropical storm watch “for the Honduras-Nicaragua border westward to Punta Castilla, Honduras as well as the Bay Islands of Honduras.” The NHC says “TD 14 is expected to slow down Thursday night and then pass over the Bay Islands on Friday. It should then pass over the Yucatan peninsula, with possible hurricane strength winds late on Saturday.”
NEMO issues Advisory #1 on TD 14
Even if TD 14 doesn’t strengthen further, or veers off, the NMSB says we should expect heavy rains in the next few days. Belize is extremely worried by TD 14, and based on the information released by the NMSB this morning, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) issued Advisory #1 for potential tropical cyclone development in the Western Caribbean. The NEMO advisory says: “most of the models show a turn to the WNW once the system reaches NE Honduras. This would suggest landfall on the Yucatan peninsula around Saturday evening. Regardless of development or whether a potential landfall occurs on the country, we need to be prepared for heavy rainfall and possible flooding. We need to continue to be on the alert and watch this system closely.”
NEMO advises the public “to be prepared for possible storm landfall over the weekend”, and if the need arises for people to evacuate they should “move early, know which shelter [they]will go to, (and) take along (their) essential necessities required for (them) to survive.”
The NEMO advisory says “COVID-19 Shelter Protocols and SI -119 of 2020” have to be adhered to. Persons sheltering in buildings designated as hurricane shelters will have to wear masks, their hands must be washed/sanitized before they enter the building, and social distancing must be observed.
NEMO says “the elderly and persons with underlying health conditions (will) not occupy the same space with persons (who are less at risk from COVID-19)”, and persons who have symptoms of COVID-19 will also be housed separately.