Message: Tropical Storm Watch now in effect for Belize. (as at 8.00p.m. September 24, 2010)

 The Situation:
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the coast of Belize. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within 12 to 24 hours.  At 8.00p.m today, Friday, September 24, the center of Tropical Storm Matthew was estimated near latitude 14.9 north longitude 84.4 west. Matthew is moving toward the west near 15 mph (24 km/hr) and this motion is expected to continue during the next day or two. On the forecast track, Matthew will continue to move across Honduras tonight and Saturday and move into Belize. Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 km/hr) with higher gusts.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km) from the center.

Tropical Storm Matthew is also producing dangerous waves along the normally sheltered west coast for most of the southern Lesser Antilles.

On its present path, Matthew is anticipated to impact Belize on Saturday night and early Sunday.  Weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Matthew is expected to become a tropical depression on Saturday and weaken to a broad area of low pressure by Sunday.

Weather conditions over the country of Belize are expected to deteriorate tonight and tomorrow. Squally conditions are expected, especially over southern areas tonight and tomorrow. Winds may gust to tropical storm force in squalls Rainfall is expected throughout Saturday and Sunday.

Rainfall totals of 6 to 12 inches are expected over Belize over the next few days, with up to 18 inches possible over southern and central areas. There is the risk of flooding, especially over the south and low lying areas coastal areas.
National Actions:
The Preliminary Phase of the National Hurricane plan remains in effect. Earlier today, The Honorable Melvin Hulse, the Minster with responsibility for disaster management, briefed the nation on the country’s operational readiness and advised citizens in flood prone areas to seek shelter or move inland to safer areas.

The National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) has been activated as well as all Emergency Operation Centre (EOCs) in the districts.

The National Emergency Management Organisation has reported that the country is mobilised to respond, in the event that this becomes necessary. Emergency Relief personnel have been placed on standby for possible deployment and emergency relief supplies are also ready for deployment. In accordance with the National Disaster Plan, the Government has also prepositioned personnel and assets for immediate response in the vulnerable areas.

Some shelters were opened earlier today to accommodate persons who may have wanted to evacuate well ahead of the storm. Shelter wardens are in place at those shelters and others have been placed on standby.

The public has been advised that preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Public officers remain on standby for deployment to carry out their emergency duties.

Regional Response:
The CDEMA Coordinating Unit continues to maintain communication with the NEMO Secretariat and is monitoring the situation.

CDEMA is also monitoring Participating States that are threatened by rough seas and dangerous storm surge associated with TS Matthew.

The CDEMA Coordinating Unit stands ready to provide response support should this become necessary.

The Regional Response Mechanism continues to be on alert as we monitor this system particularly for flooding and related impacts.

Contact Details: The CDEMA CU 24hr contact number is 1 246 425 0386