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MEDIA BRIEFING TO MARK OFFICIAL CLOSE OF HURRICANE SEASON 2017

A media briefing marking the close of the 2017 Hurricane Season was held this morning at the NEMO Headquarters in Belmopan. Speakers included Minister of National Emergency Management Hon Edmond Castro; CEO in the Ministry, Ruth Meighan; NEMO National Emergency Coordinator, Colonel (ret.) Shelton DeFour; and Chief Meteorologist at the National Meteorology Service, Catherine Cumberbatch.

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In her remarks, Chief Meteorologist Catherine Cumberbatch noted that Hurricane Season 2017 lived up to expectations as a very active one. She said, it was forecasted to be above average and it was, with a total of 17 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and 6 reached major hurricane status (category 3 or higher). The major factors that supported the above average season, she explained, were, a decrease in vertical wind-shear, the presence of above-normal sea surface temperatures in the Tropical Atlantic Ocean, and the transition from a neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) pattern at the start of the hurricane season to a weak La Niña by the end of the season.

Thankfully, Ms Cumberbatch recounted, “Belize was blessed to have NOT been directly affected by any. However, two systems were tracked just north of our border. Those were Tropical Storms Franklin and Harvey.” She said, “The staff at the National Meteorological Service will continue to do its utmost best to disseminate reliable analytic information in a timely and user-friendly manner to the Belizean public in the case of any weather-related emergency event.”

Hon Edmond Castro expressed thanks to the Almighty for sparing us this past hurricane season, and to NEMO staff and volunteers countrywide and the wider community for staying alert and prepared; National Emergency Coordinator Shelton DeFour spoke of the lessons learnt and areas identified for improvement in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management; and CEO Ruth Meighan thanked the staff of NEMO and the National Meteorology Service and commented on the continued work to improve coordination within the Ministry, the Public Service and the community for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The event was attended by NEMO Coordinators from around the country and support staff from NEMO and the Ministry of National Emergency Management.

NEMO Coordinators attend Mesoamerican Risk Management Meeting in Mexico

Deputy National Emergency Coordinator Colin Gillett and Orange Walk District Coordinator Suleima Celiz represented Belize last week at a technical meeting for the Mesoamerican Network for Integrated Risk Management held in Mexico City.

The Mesoamerican Network for Integrated Risk Management is a component of the larger Mesoamerica Integration and Development Project which includes all Central American countries as well as Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

This project is a cooperative initiative that facilitates the construction of consensus, the articulation of cooperation efforts and the attraction of resources to strengthen Mesoamerican integration and development processes with the objective of improving quality of life.

The objective of this particular component is to develop mechanisms and tools for the generation and dissemination of information on integrated risk management, in order to reduce the vulnerability of Mesoamerica to disasters caused by natural phenomena and protect its inhabitants, ecosystems and public and private infrastructure.

This meeting was a technical forum to discuss the advances in data collection to be fed into the regional Geographic Information System (GIS) that has been developed and housed in Mexico. The system will integrate all risk and emergency data and maps developed in shape files and into one large database for the region.

Belize’s participants, for their part, reported on the implementation of our country’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), which will set the standards for Belize in all things GIS and mapping related. This NSDI will also set the protocols for data/map sharing within the country and with regional partners. It was proposed that the project steering committee convene a meeting in Belize to discuss possible opportunities for capacity development.

 

The Mesoamerican Risk Management meeting took place on November 15 and 16, 2017.