Information Note #3: Hurricane Ernesto expected to make landfall north of Belize on the Yucatan Peninsula late tonight or early tomorrow morning – As of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday August 7, 2012

According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, as of 4:00 p.m. today (Tuesday, 7/8/12) the centre of Hurricane Ernesto was located near latitude 18.8 North and longitude 86.2 West or about 140 miles east of Chetumal, Mexico. Ernesto is moving towards the west-north-west near 15 mph and this motion is expected to continue over the next two days. On the forecast track Ernesto will be moving north of Belize across the Yucatan Peninsula during the next 24 hours. Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph with higher gusts. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 miles and Tropical Storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the center. The minimum central pressure reported by an Air Force Hurricane Hunter Aircraft was 983 MB. Ernesto is now a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Some additional strengthening is possible before Ernesto reaches the Yucatan Peninsula.

Some weakening is expected as Ernesto moves over land.

Ernesto is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches expected over Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula and northern Guatemala. These rains are likely to cause dangerous flash floods and mud slides over higher terrain.

Hurricane Ernesto Tropical Force WindHurricane Ernesto track across the Yucatan Peninsula

Hurricane Warnings

Hurricane warning continues to be in effect for the south of Belize City northward to the border with Mexico.

Hurricane Warning is in effect from Chetumal to Tulum on the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and the island of Cozumel.

Tropical Storm Warning

The Government of Belize has changed the Hurricane Warning to a Tropical Storm Warning for the coast of Belize from south of Belize City southward to the border of Guatemala.

National Actions


The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has circulated eight (8) press releases to CDEMA and the general public since it commenced monitoring Ernesto from when it was declared a Tropical Depression on Tuesday July 31st , 2012. These press releases provide information, advice and warning to all the residents, especially those in vulnerable areas. Small crafts were advised to seek shelter.

The NEMO Advisory Committee met on Monday ( twice) and Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. (6 & 7/8/12) and activated the National Response Mechanism:

  • The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was activated along with all 9 District/City Emergency Operations Centre countrywide. The National Emergency Management plan has been activated.
  • Voluntary evacuations from the islands, cayes and coastal areas commenced yesterday (Monday 6/8/12) and continued throughout today. Public transport was made available to assist with the voluntary evacuations.
  • Public Transport was pooled by NEMO in the northern districts in order to support the National Hurricane Response Plan.
  • Opening of Hurricane Shelters:
    • Shelters were ordered to be opened from 2:00 (7/8/12).
    • There are currently twenty five shelters opened in Belize City and the Northern Districts: 11 in Corozal, 10 in Orange Walk and 4 in Belize City.

NEMO continues to remind business owners in Corozal District, Orange Walk District, San Pedro (Island)Town and Caye Caulker Island, to release their staff in order to allow them to go home and secure their families.

The National Security Forces have activated their departments’ plans and have deployed personel across the country in accordance with the National Emergency Management Plan. These include the National Coast Guard, the Belize Defence Force and the Belize Police Department.

Regional Actions:

The CDEMA Coordinating Unit (CU)

The CDEMA CU remains in contact with NEMO Belize. The CU continues to monitor Hurricane Ernesto and the incoming reports from Belize. It remains ready to provide any requested support.

North Western Sub-Region

The Sub-Regional Focal Point (SRFP), Jamaica, for the North Western Sub-Region (of which Belize is a part of), has been in contact with CDEMA and continues to monitor Hurricane Ernesto.

The Western Caribbean Donor Group (WCDG)

The WCDG is standing by to provide support to Belize if requested.

United Nations Office foir the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA)

UN OCHA continues to stand-by to provide assistance to Belize if required.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

The PAHO representative in Belize is currently imbeded into the National Response Mechanism and continues to provide advice and support to the Ministry of Health.

World Food Programme

A senior representative from the World Food Programme has pledged to provide support to Belize if impacted.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)

CIMH hosted “on line” discussions (via ELLUMINATE), with representatives from the CDEMA CU, the Metrological Offices and National Disaster Offices in the region at 9:30 this morning. The discussion included outputs from the Caribbean Dewetra Platform on the Tropical System. Participants discussed the scenarios and projections for Ernesto as it moves across the Yucatan Penninunsula.

The CDEMA 24 hour contact number is 246-425-0386

Summary of National Actions by Jamaica:

Below are some of the actions taken by Jamaica when Tropical Storm Ernesto threatened on Saturday and Sunday (4 & 5/8/12). Ernesto passed south of Jamaica and did not cause any damage to the island. However this report serves to highlight the Government of Jamaica’s serious approach, deciciveness and high level leadership in response to the thteat from Tropical Storm Ernesto. Jamaica celebrated its Independence Day on Monday, August 6, 2012.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency management (ODPEM) reports the following:

  • ODPEM briefed Jamaica Prime Minister and the National Disaster Committee on Tropical Storm Ernesto(3/8/12).
  • Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller chaired a meeting with response agencies of the National Disaster Committee at Jamaica House on Friday (3/8/12).
  • Jamaica declared Tropical Storm Warning (4/8/12)
    • Key National Response personnel and Parish Disaster Coordinators have been alerted and the following steps have been taken by ODPEM as outlined in the Hurricane SOP’s for actions in the pre- impact stage for hurricane:
      • Activated the National Disaster Plan
      • Partially activated the National Emergency Operations Centre and monitored the storm until 5:46 a.m Friday (3/8/12) – Level 1 (ODPEM Staff)
      • Sent out four (4) advisories to the CDEMA and the general public.
      • Advised the marine community to move their vessels to safe harbour.
      • Briefed the National Disaster Committee and the Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister.
      • Alerted local agencies and community disaster management groups.
      • Key agencies such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard, Marine Police, Jamaica Fire Brigade, National Works Agency, Port Authority, Airport Authority, Red Cross, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Health and other agencies have activated their Emergency Plans.
      • Contingency Plans are in place for the National Independence Jubilee Celebrations including Denbigh 60 Agricultural Show and Jamaica 50 activities. The plans will be activated as the need arises.
      • Emergency Communication with HAM Radio Operators in place.
      • Priority shelter activation for southern parishes.

All small craft operators, including fishers from the cayes and banks, should by now be in port and are urged to complete their necessary safety preparations without delay.

The public was advised that even though the system is tracking further south of Jamaica, meteorological events are unpredictable and the forecasted track could change within the next 24 – 36 hours; hence, the ODPEM asked persons to take the necessary precautions to adequately prepare for any eventuality. The public was asked to monitor the radio broadcasts for further advisories and to avoid areas that are at risk from flooding and landslides and take the following precautions in the event of heavy rains:

  • Be ready to evacuate if living in low-lying or flood-prone areas. Decide on likely evacuation routes now.
  • Avoid flooded waterways, i.e. fords, gullies, streams or rivers, whether travelling on foot or in vehicles.
  • Avoid driving vehicles into areas where the water covers the roadway. The water depth may prevent vehicles from crossing safely.

At 8:00 a.m. on Monday August 6. 2012 the Meteorological Service discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for Jamaica as Tropical Storm Ernesto continues to move away from the island.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) deactivated the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC, thanked its partner agencies, staff and all Jamaicans for their continued support in making this an incident free event.

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