Keep your eyes open for Fair Weather Waterspouts
Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes over water. Waterspouts are generally broken into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.
Tornadic waterspouts are simply tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.
Fair Weather waterspouts are usually a less dangerous phenomena, but common over South Florida’s coastal waters from late spring to early fall. The term fair weather comes from the fact that this type of waterspout forms during fair and relatively calm weather, often during the early to mid morning and sometimes during the late afternoon. Fair weather waterspouts usually form along dark flat bases of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms whereas tornadic waterspouts develop in severe thunderstorms. Tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm while a fair weather waterspout begins to develop on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity.
Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move little. If a waterspout moves onshore, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning as some of them can cause significant damages and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely penetrate far inland.
Points To Consider About Belize Hurricanes
Many people have questions about Belize hurricanes and Belize weather systems and how they affect life in the tropics. Hopefully this can shed some light on the topic and alleviate some concerns.
Some Facts About Belize Hurricanes and Belize Weather Systems
- the hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June 1st until November 30th of each year
- in Belize, during this time, we can get stormy weather as systems move west, towards the coast of Belize
- stormy weather includes rain showers and squalls as well as the associated wind that comes with them
- most often, these little systems are characterized by a quick drop in temperature (2 or 3 degrees), an increase in the wind speed and then the rain comes. In a few minutes, it’s all over and the sunshine is back…
- these squalls will usually have wind speeds of between 20 and 30 mph but sometimes they’ll reach 35 mph and rarely 40 mph
- and sometimes, a hurricane will come to Belize. Historically there is a 17% chance that a hurricane will come with in 50 miles of Belize.
- historically, Belize hurricanes occur more frequently in that latter part of the hurricane season, specifically, October and November
Keeping Things In Perspective
Without a doubt, hurricanes are serious events and should be given great respect. Having said that, I think that tornadoes are pretty serious as well. In addition, ice storms and -40 degree temperatures, forest fires, earthquakes, mud slides and floods are ALL serious calamities that we all need to be aware of, depending on where we live.
If you live along the San Andreas fault, you likely know the risk of an earthquake happening and you’re prepared for that to happen, on one level or another. The same is true for the tornado belt in the mid-west, or the forest fire zones in British Columbia each summer and for the flood areas that occur in the spring time in many locations. Wherever you live, you have to be aware and prepared for what Mother Nature can send your way. The same is true for Belize hurricanes.
But taking things one step further, just what ARE the risks of hurricanes in Belize?
A little understanding about how these weather systems develop will go a long way in assessing the risk of hurricanes in Belize.
It all starts a long way from here, over on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Weather systems develop in Africa & travel west, across the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes, but not always, these weather systems gain strength, thunderstorms develop and circulation patterns emerge.
- When this system strengthens to a certain degree, a hurricane is born. It continues its journey west, gaining strength or weakening, as the case may be.
- Now, here’s the important part for Belize…
- As the system approaches the Caribbean, the weather patterns of Central America and North America begin to affect the path that the storm takes. Most of the time, these weather patterns push the storm north, towards the northern Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of the United States. Sometimes, the weather patterns push the approaching storms south, towards Honduras. And sometimes, the approaching storms come straight in toward Belize and we have a major storm or hurricane in Belize.
- What percentage of the storms that come across the Atlantic become hurricanes in Belize? A very, very small percentage…
There is a greater concerned about living in Florida or the Gulf Coast or vacationing there, compared to living in Belize.
In addition, this LINK to the National Hurricane Center gives you LOTS of information, but in particular:
- This page is the Atlantic hurricane summaries report
- Select a particular year at the top of the page
- The page displayed will be a map, showing storm tracks for all the tropical storms and hurricanes for that year
- look through these, year by year, and notice the path that storms follow and notice roughly what percentage of these storms make it to Belize…
- we’re very fortunate here in Belize
One more thing about hurricanes…
Tropical storms and in particular hurricanes, are BIG news items. Like high speed car chases, celebrity affairs and political indiscretions, the ‘media machine’ dramatizes hurricanes and tropical storms. For people who live in Belize, hurricanes and storms are a fact of life. But people don’t live in fear of hurricanes. They watch the weather during hurricane season and prepare themselves, to one degree or another, and life goes on…