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The Government of Belize       WMO Link


Close of the 2007 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season

 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 land slide.

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 districts.