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.
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.