Rain is still absent in San Pedro and most parts of Belize. Just last week the National Meteorological Service of Belize issued a drought report which indicates that the entire country has been experiencing a deficit in rainfall.
Patrick Jones of Love FM reported last week that residents of the rural Toledo village of Mabilha are desperately in need of water. Springs that usually supply fresh water to the 37 families have dried up and a hand pump in the community is broken down. The Chairman of the village on Sunday made an impassioned plea for assistance for his people saying he does not know what else to do to get assistance. With the ongoing heat, it is unthinkable what the people of this village are going through without water.
And today marks the start of the Hurricane Season (rainy season), but although the season is predicted to be less active than last year (and still an above-average season), the U.S., the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico must prepare for dangerous and destructive storms, said the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Monday.
It said it expects the formation of as many as 18 storms during the six month season from June 1 to November 30, of which 10 would become hurricanes and between 3 and 6 would be of strong intensity with winds above 178 kilometers per hour.
“I constantly tell the people that the number of storms doesn’t mean much. To use the predictions to determine whether they are prepared or not is an error, always be prepared,” said National Hurricane Center (CNH) director Bill Read, quoted by Efe.
So rain is expected to come soon as Dr. Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground, reports that even before the start of the hurricane season, the Caribbean has already shown signs of the change of seasons with a couple of tropical waves looming in the eastern Caribbean on Tuesday, May 31, 2011.
He reports that moisture and heavy thunderstorm activity have increased in the region between Central America and Jamaica in recent days, and rainfall amounts of 1 – 2 inches have been common over the past three days over Cuba, Hispaniola, and much of Central America. All of the computer models predict that an area of low pressure will form in the region between Jamaica and Honduras by Thursday. This low will have the potential to develop into a tropical depression late this week.
Officials in Belize are preparing for the hurricane season as Chief Meteorological Officer, Dennis Gonguez, says that there are lessons that should be learnt from the wrath of even a category one storm, such as Hurricane Richard that ripped through central Belize last year tearing down houses, blocking roads and flooding out portions of the low-lying areas.
“We should build on the experiences of Hurricane Richard and the other two systems that affected us last year,” commented Dennis Gonguez to Love FM News. “We need to already have our plans in place, what we will do, where we will go, what we will take with us; all that should already be in place so when the evacuation order comes we can just grab our bags and head to our designated shelter. Although the forecast numbers don’t tell where systems make landfall, the prediction for an active season means a higher probability that you will be impacted by one of these systems.”
Minister of NEMO, Melvin Hulse, has mentioned that a major part of NEMO’s focus is getting the shelters prepared and that they are constantly upgrading them throughout the country.
But Love FM reports that while the shelters on the list are structurally sound to withstand up to category two hurricane, in Belize City, the most densely-populated community, they will not be repaired in time for the start of the season. The list of shelters for this year has just been finalized.