It looks like at the moment Tropical Storm Earl is going to slam into Belize sometime late tonight. We should be safe here in Mahahual unless the storm turns to the north, which I have seen happen before. It is going back and forth between being a hurricane or just a tropical storm.
Here is the latest map of its course, and some information I got this morning.
“Predicted to be a hurricane when it makes landfall later today with winds now at 90mph. See attached track chart. Personally I think the shallow warm water may increase the intensity to winds higher than 90mph for areas of low lying topography along the coast. No more joking from me, this is now a serious storm.”
Here is some updated information from the Weather Channel.
Tropical Storm Earl is nearing hurricane strength off the Honduran coast, and will landfall in Belize early Thursday.
Hurricane warnings are posted for the Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras and the Belize coast northward to Puerto Costa, Mexico. This includes Belize City and Chetumal, Mexico.
Tropical storm warnings extend northward to Punta Allen, Mexico, but do not include either Cancun or Cozumel.
The center of Earl was located about 235 miles east-southeast of Belize City, Belize, late Wednesday morning. Earl’s forward speed had slowed over the past 24-48 hours, moving west at 14 mph.
First up, the center of Earl is likely to hit the Bay Islands of Honduras Wednesday.
Thanks to strong high pressure aloft over the southern United States, Earl will be steered toward the coast of Belize or Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early Thursday.
With wind shear not too strong, a moist atmosphere, and the typically warm sea-surface temperatures of the western Caribbean Sea, Earl is expected to continue gaining some strength before landfall most likely as a Category 1 hurricane.
This would be the first hurricane landfall on the Caribbean side of central America since Category 1 Hurricane Ernesto almost exactly four years ago.
Beyond that, it appears Earl’s center won’t spend much time, if at all, over the Bay of Campeche Friday into early Saturday. If it does, there’s a chance for some minimal re-intensification before the center slides back over land this weekend in eastern Mexico.
Otherwise, the remnant will simply slide over land, raining itself out over southern Mexico this weekend.
Rainfall totals of 8-12 inches (locally higher) are possible along the path of Earl in parts of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and southern Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula. Dangerous flash flooding and mudslides are possible through the weekend in these areas.
Storm surge may raise water levels up to 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels, the National Hurricane Center said, along the coast of the Honduran Bay Islands, Belize, and adjacent parts of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Battering waves riding atop the surge would also add to any flooding or beach erosion in these areas.
Hurricane-force winds may arrive first in the Bay Islands of Honduras later today, then spread to the Belize coast and possibly Mexico’s southern Yucatan Peninsula in the hurricane warning area overnight tonight into early Thursday.
Tropical storm-force winds are expected on the rest of the northern Honduran coast today into early Thursday.
The track of Earl will remain well south of the U.S.
However, some increase in showers may spread to parts of South Texas this weekend.
Of perhaps more concern is the threat for higher surf and rip currents by the weekend up the Texas coast, possibly as far north as Galveston.
What I find interesting is that Hurricane Ernesto hit Mahahual four years ago almost to the day that this storm is expected to hit. I was in Mahahual during Ernesto and it caused a lot of damage on the beaches of Mahahual.
I remember Hurricane Ernesto came through at about 11pm, and I was holed up in my hotel. In fact, it is the same hotel I am currently staying in now. The power and everything went out, and the whole place was flooded. I just waited it out until the next morning in a hammock, to keep out of the water.
Most of the buildings and houses here are built like bunkers, so they are pretty safe during a hurricane. The only major damage was a lot of palapas and trees knocked down.
The next morning after the hurricane, I got up and headed to town to check out the damage. As I was riding my bike into town the Mexican Army passed me on their way into town. They had a bunch of dump trucks filled with Mexicans in the back with shovels.
The Mexican Army had stopped at towns along the way to Mahahual, and picked up people and their shovels and told them they would make 200 pesos a day to come dig Mahahual out. They shoveled the sand back onto the beaches and off the malecon and streets, where the hurricane had pushed it. There must have been a hundred people digging and shoveling along the malecon. We just stayed out-of-the-way, and watched them work. We had a big cooler of water and cold drinks, and I passed some out, as the guys dug and shoveled by.
The Mexican Army is ranked number one in the world in humanitarian efforts, and I can tell you from first hand experience, they really get the job down. After the hurricane I thought it would take weeks to get Mahahual running again. We were back and running in three days, with power, internet, and water back operational. We even had a ship the next week after the hurricane.
So unless the hurricane turns at the last-minute and heads north, we should be safe here in Mahahual. I am prepared for the power and internet to go out, so this might be my last post for a couple of days. But besides that I am expecting a lot of wind and rain, and it will be mostly in the night-time hours.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina