Tropical Storm Matthew
The weather in Belize keeps changing it’s mind – this morning woke up to rain at 6am – that did not last long and the sun came out. We got up around 7:30 and it started raining again for a short bit now it is a mix of sun clouds and wind – I am sure more rain is not far behind. This mornings wunderground tropical storm tracking map is showing tropical storm Matthew passing by us today instead of tomorrow – amazing how fast it keeps shifting. This is why I keep checking the Belize weather – things change all the time.
Checked the side window boards this morning and the one in the bedroom had a top gap that allowed for water to pass so the window screen was covered with water drops – thankfully no floor puddles though. The board in the Paul’s office / spare bedroom was all dry inside and no evidence of rain getting in.
Several boats are heading around the lagoon side to park in the canals. I just went outside to snap a few pictures and it was windy enough that I had to use 2 hands to keep the front door from slamming shut – our shell door holder was not a useful option today. Tropic Air and Maya Island air planes are taking off in the other direction due to wind and flights seem like they may be slightly delayed [they may have added extra planes too by the sounds of it I can hear lots of action towards the airstrip]
Power just blipped out for a second so I am going to post this now in case it happens again and will be back to update you on the storm later.
11:55 am is hot sunny and breezy right now – went for a walk to the check Cindy’s place and make sure all the windows were down. Pedro just called Paul to tell him some of the docks in town are pretty banged up in case I wanted to go take some pictures – not sure how mobile I am feeling lol.
5:5opm Quicksilver Dianne just called and said she was at the NEMO meeting and the hurricane watch is officially over – yay. Monel from Mexico popped me and said to watch there is talk on fb of another storm brewing. Paul checked storm sites and did not see much evidence of anything to worry about right now – hope it stays that way.
Since I got a lot of positive response on the list I posted yesterday – here is some more useful hurricane information that I dug up from my Belize archives. Info is dated from Hurricane Dean 2007. The first part is from Cindy about thinking in 3’s and I am guessing that the rest is from Dianne Campbell and other sources listed below.
Hurricane season tips
Just think in 3’s Taco. when it comes to survival. 3 nights without sleep, 3 days without water, 3 days of food.
OK guys, at the request of Laurie, here is all the crap I wrote down after hurricane Wilma.
Here it goes ….
– Make sure mobile phone has lots of credit on it and keep the batteries at full charge. If you have several phones, charge up all the batteries and use them for just one number.
– Make sure all laundry is clean.
– Make sure you have enough storm screws to put all the boards on your windows. Electric drill!
– If you have pets, make sure they have ID on them at all times to be easily returned if they get lost during a storm. Make sure they have somewhere to pee, newspaper for dogs and clean litter for cats.
– Make sure all valuables are in waterproof bags. Passport, credit cards, cash.
– Make sure everything you hold dear fits in one bag and that bag is packed.
– All computer things disconnected from power.
– If you have gas, turn it off until the storm has passed.
– Chain gas bottle up if it’s outside.
– Garden furniture – if you have a pool, sink the plastic furniture in it.
– Clear your garden of all things that may fly. Cut limbs off trees.
– If you invite people over, make sure you will enjoy their presence for UP TO 5 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is what happened to us in Hurricane Wilma…..
– If you have a tinaka (black water holder) on your roof, manually check it is full to the limit so it won’t blow away.
– Have lots of cash on you.
– Protect yourself, your house and your belongings from THEFT.
– Put everything you will need (glasses, plates, food) out on counters so you can find stuff in the dark easily. Especially lights and FIRST AID KIT.
– Don’t flush toilet after use until really necessary.
– Vent your house for pressure changes – open a couple of windows at opposite ends a little.
– Stay away from the large glass windows of your house. Try to make a safe room for the worst of the storm, one where there are no windows. If this is not possible, put mattresses against the windows.
– Buckets, and any other containers you can fill with tap water for washing, doing dishes.
– Be in a concrete building on 2nd floor – go to a friends house with your valuables!
– Raise things off the floor, cpu’s etc.
– First Aid Kit. KNOW SOME BASIC FIRST AID AND CPR. Get a first aid book and leave it next to first aid kit. Aspirin, Pain killers, lots of bandages (I mean lots), tweezers, scissors, latex gloves (several pairs), bags to put bloody bandages in, incense, disinfectant, band aids, stomach pills, re-hydration salts, vitamins, water purification tablets,
– Remove aerials and antennas from roof.
– Organize your window boards beforehand, write on the board – which window does it go on, which way is up.
Masking tape, batteries, torches, candles. Lots of drinking water. Lots of cleaning products (Bleach, Mr Clean, Zote). Canned foods. Pet foods. Cat litter. Cigarettes (even if you don’t smoke, someone you know will need them!). Alcohol. Coolers full of ice to begin with. Chocolate. Ziploc bags. Matches and lighters. Charcoal. Rice. Spaghetti. Anything tinned you can eat cold. Toilet paper. All prescription medication you need. Phone credit. Emergency phone numbers of friends you live with for their families, vice versa. Phone numbers of emergency services, doctors etc. Paper plates, cutlery, cups. Instant coffee. Tea bags. Cook things in the freezer when you know the storm is coming, otherwise it will be wasted. Toiletries. Water for flushing toilets. Cleansing wipes. Small camping stove and spare gas. Board games and cards – anything to keep busy, especially if you have kids. Cameras with spare batteries and memory sticks. Lots of towels, mops, squeegees and brooms (lots of water to be cleaned up). Radio with batteries. Munchy things. MORE DRINKING WATER! fruit that keeps, i.e. apples or canned fruits. Waterproof things for when you go outside. Crash helmets for going outside if wind still blowing. Condoms. Cleansing wipes. Trash bags. Mosquito repellent. Bug spray. Mosquito coils to burn. Booze. Patience.
Hurricane Season in the Atlantic basin – 1 June – 1 December.
Height of hurricane activity in Atlantic basin – September
Height of hurricane activity in Western Caribbean – mid-September though early Nov.
Assembling a Disaster Kit- NEMO
Assemble supplies you might need in an evacuation. Store them in an easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or duffel bag.
• A supply of water (one gallon per person per day).
• Store water in sealed, unbreakable container.
• Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
• A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
• Blankets or sleeping bags.
• A first aid kit and prescription medication.
• A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
• Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
• Sanitary supplies i.e, toilet paper; feminine supplies and soap.
• Personal identification documents such as passports, birth certificates, residency cards etc.
Part A – insuring personal safety
1. Stay away during the height of storm season
2. If you are here – be prepared to take care of yourself (leave the kids at home) If you cannot take care of yourself, activate item #1 above.
3. Do not attempt to weather a storm in a boat.
Part B – taking care of yourself – evacuation
1. Get out early if you plan to get out. Know where you are going, how you will get here and how you will pay for it. Government will not help you. US Embassy will not help you. Lines at airline counters will be long, and seats will be limited. International flight reservations will be honored in order received. You do not want to ride out a storm at the International Airport.
2. Have cash-money available. Credit cards may not work.
3. Have ID (passports) on your person.
4. Have a cellular phone and numbers of airlines, water taxis etc with you.
Part C – Be prepared to be stuck in a hurricane
1. Water – have at least two clean 35-gallon plastic garbage containers (with lids) on hand – if a storm threatens, put one in kitchen and one in a bathroom, fill with water.
2. Food – have an “action-packer” type container filled with food sufficient for (at least) a week for all occupants. High-energy foods like chocolate milk, energy bars, etc. are a must. Remember that you may not have a source of cooking-fuel for a while, so uncooked pasta and rice are not particularly useful during the initial phases of such an emergency. Consider a bar-b-q and some dry (?!) coco husks or a camping stove as a back-up for food prep.
3. Medical – have (at least) two weeks supply of necessary meds on hand – heart, insulin, etc.
4. Seeing – have spare glasses and contact lenses.
5. Emergency tools & equipment – hammer, hack-saw, crowbar, ax, hose, 200 feet of rope, life jackets, goggles.
6. Feet – thick soled, closed toe shoes for each occupant.
7. Hands – work gloves for after the storm, rubber gloves if you are called on to render medical assistance.
8. First Aid – fully stocked first aid kit.
9. Plastic bags – all sizes zip lock, many large garbage bags – to protect your stuff.
10. Duct Tape – taping windows, securing plastic bags, emergency repairs.
11. Communications – battery operated radio / well-charged cellular phone / walkie-talkies for use within the neighborhood.
12. Flashlights – water-proof, have several on hand with plenty of spare batteries. Keep batteries in refrigerator for longer life.
13. Raincoats – one for each person
Insurance – keep policy in a location away from area that could be affected by storm
Document contents of our home – you will not be able to make a claim for contents damage if you have not done this in advance. Digital photos are very helpful.
Cover glass windows and doors (outside) with plywood.
Put away lawn furniture and any other objects that could blow around.
Pull boats out of water – put on high land and tie with ropes to something that will hold them fast in a surge.
Turn off your electric breakers – town board will turn off power if a storm approaches, but do it on your own place too – this will help you avoid surges and dangerous downed live wires after the storm.
Knock down coconuts from trees – they are cannonballs in a wind.
Check your roof material now to see if it is securely fastened – flying roof tiles and/or flying zinc are deadly. A few extra nails now will also keep your house dry in a storm.
Assemble rags & long bits of foam to place at the bottom of doors – water will blow in below them regardless of the method of installation, so have something there to absorb it.
Who is in Charge during a Force Majeur?
National Emergency Management Organization = NEMO.
NEMO’s word will be law – NEMO can commandeer your home, boat or vehicle for emergency service. They can arrest and detain. Local radio stations will turn into emergency communications networks. During hurricane Keith, LOVE FM broadcast 24-7.
You can access LOVE FM on your computer. Reef Radio is our local island station, and local NEMO Broadcasts will be made there. Broadcasts depend on people being available, power being available, broadcast towers standing tall and equipment remaining in place.
Keys – make sure you have a spare set of keys to your home placed somewhere that family members can locate.
Kids – make sure they have ID and family contact information on their person. Small laminated information cards are an excellent idea.
Phone Tree – have somebody you know who lives outside the area be your point of communication. Tell all your family and friends that this is who they call for information about you after a storm. When the storm is over the phone lines will be very congested. If you can call one person in the US or Mexico or wherever, give them an update, they can call out to your family and can receive calls for you. Organize this now. If you have such a phone-tree, inform your neighbors of who is your initial contact person.
Food shopping – storm prep made easy ..
Each time you go shopping for food tell yourself that you are coming home with one or two complete hurricane dinner-style meals for yourself and family. In a short while you will have all you need and it won’t have ruined your budget.
If you just go out willy-nilly buying canned goods you will end up with 10 cans of sauce and nothing to put it over, or a lot of tuna and no mayo – ick. You can do some amazing things (good ones) with smoked spam lite. Lots of lime and pineapple squash are good for a taste treat and to boost your energy. I also find that a couple dozen packets of Lasko food drink powder are invaluable – solid nutrition, no cooking, easy and the chocolate one is a feel-good food too.
DO buy a stock of liquid bleach – you may need it for your water supply.
OK – enough about storms. Prepare, stay informed and then relax.
A plastic tarp can be very useful, particularly if part of your roof is gone. Water from a swimming pool can be used to flush toilets. Get to know your neighbors, who needs help, who can give help, who belongs and who doesn’t. Candles can be very dangerous, be careful.
Number of storms making landfall in Belize since 1889
In the past 117 years since weather records in Belize were formally maintained, Belize has seen the following storms make landfall
20 hurricanes — average of about 1 hurricane every 6 years
31 tropical storms – average of 1 tropical storm every 3 3/4 years
51 total hurricanes and tropical storms – average of 1 hurricane or tropical storm every 2 1/4 years
Of the 20 hurricanes to hit Belize in past 117 years
9 or 45% were in September (1 every 13 Septembers)
8 or 40% were in October (1 every 14 2/3 Octobers)
2 or 10% were in July
1 or 5% was in November
0 or 0% in June and August
Of the 51 total hurricanes and tropical storms
7 or 14% were in June
4 or 8% were in July
4 or 8% were in August
19 or 37% were in September
14 or 27% were in October
3 or 6% were in November
Odds of a hurricane in a given year
Odds of a hurricane in Belize in a given year: 17%
Odds of a hurricane in Florida in a given year: 68%
Odds of a hurricane on the U.S. Gulf Coast in a given year: 67%
Odds of a hurricane on the U.S. East Coast in a given year: 47%
(Note, however, that the length of the coast in Belize (less than 200 miles) is much smaller than the length of the coasts of Florida, the Gulf Coast and the East Coast – for example the East Coast of the U.S. is 1860 miles in length, so it offers a much greater area for storms to strike.)
Most damaging storms to hit Belize
Unnamed hurricane, September 9, 1931, Belize City and Northern Cayes, 110 mph, estimated 2,500-3,000 deaths
Hurricane Janet, September 28, 1955, Northern Belize, 165 mph, 16 deaths in Belize
Hurricane Hattie, October 31, 1961, Belize City, 140 mph, estimated 225-310 deaths in Belize
Hurricane Carmen, September 2, 1974, skirted Northern Belize, 120 mph
Hurricane Mitch, October 27, 1998, skirted Belize to the south, 155 mph
Hurricane Keith, October 1, 2000, Ambergris Caye 120 mph, 2 deaths in Belize
Hurricane Iris, October 9, 2001, Placencia & Southern Belize, 145 mph, 21 deaths in Belize
Source; Belize National Meteorological Service, NOAA and other weather records