Close of the 2007 Atlantic Basin
The 2007 Atlantic Basin
Hurricane Season officially draws to close today Friday, November 30.
Tropical cyclone activity was above normal this season with fourteen
(14) named storms forming. Four (4) became hurricanes and two (2) of
these were intense hurricanes, namely hurricane Dean and Felix. The
accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) was forecast to be between 140% - 200%
above the median on August 9, 2007. However, ACE as measured up until
November 26, was just 75% of the median, indicating that in terms of
energy measurement, 2007 was below normal.
The Atlantic Hurricane
season started in May with one sub-tropical storm Andrea which developed
in the Western Atlantic Ocean near Florida. In June, two tropical
storms namely: Barry and Chantal developed in the Gulf of Mexico and
the Western Atlantic, respectively. Later in August powerful hurricanes
Dean and Felix evolved, along with tropical storm Erin. Meanwhile, the
high tropical cyclone activity continued through September with seven
named cyclones and one tropical depression developing over the Atlantic
Basin. In addition hurricane Felix, which formed during late August,
evolved into the second category 5 hurricane in early September just
before making landfall over the sparsely populated region of NE
Nicaragua. In October, tropical storm Noel developed in the Caribbean
just south of Hispaniola, producing torrential rainfall over Cuba, the
Bahamas, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
As we may recall, both
hurricane Dean (August 13-23, 2007) and Hurricane Felix (August 30-Sep.
4, 2007) became catastrophic Category 5 hurricanes in the western
Caribbean, after ravaging the island states of the eastern and central
Caribbean. It was unprecedented for two CAT 5 hurricanes to make
landfall over Mesoamerica in one season within a period of three weeks.
During its passage through the Caribbean,
fast-moving hurricane Dean strengthened rapidly, inflicting major damage
to many island states in the eastern Caribbean, including the southern
coast of Jamaica as it headed on a generally westward track. Dean
maintained a trajectory slightly south of what the models were
predicting. Twelve (12) deaths were attributed to hurricane Dean across
the Caribbean out of a total of about forty (40) who perish during the
odyssey of hurricane Dean through the region. In the case of hurricane
Felix, a total of 101 person loss their lives, mostly due to floods and
Hurricane Dean made its first landfall
around 3:30 am on Tuesday, August 21 with sustained winds of 165 mile
per hour winds near Costa Maya (Majahual), Quintana Roo, Mexico. This
location is about 32 miles due north of Corozal town. The associated
storm surge was estimated to be about 16 feet in the area where the eye
came onshore. It was the first land-falling category 5 hurricane in the
Atlantic basin since Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida in 1992. Its
pressure of 906 millibars was the third lowest pressure at landfall
behind the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys and Hurricane
Gilbert in 1988 in Cancun, Mexico.
Although the greatest impact associated
with hurricane Dean was north of where the eye made landfall, hurricane
force winds swept across northern Belize; while tropical storm force
winds battered areas as far south as northern Belize District. Because
of its rapid forward motion, most of the expected rainfall associated
Dean was short lived and confined to areas around and to the north of
the center of the hurricane.
Total damage and losses to housing,
agriculture, infrastructure, utilities, fishing and tourism in Belize
was estimated at a whopping U.S. $96.68 million in the northern
districts of Corozal and Orange Walk.
The National Meteorological Service
maintained a close vigilant on hurricanes Dean and Felix as the moved
into the western Caribbean, and kept NEMO and the Belizean public
closely informed of the hourly evolution of these systems as they
threatened the country.
A heartfelt thanks and appreciation is
extended to all the radio and television stations and media houses for
the great work done during the two hurricane emergencies this season.
Although there were some snags in the recovery efforts after Dean, NEMO
and the private sector must be commended for the valiant and successful
relief and recovery actions they undertook to restore a state of
normalcy in the affected communities of the Corozal and Orange Walk