Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:28 AM GMT on June 03, 2008
Reports coming in from Belize indicate that Tropical Storm Arthur hit that country hard. Rainfall totals of about six inches were measured at the airport, and up to 11 inches in the Corozal Town area. The resulting flooding has claimed the first lives of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season--at least four people are confirmed dead, and another two are missing. Arthur's rains forced some rivers higher than was observed during devastating Hurricane Mitch of 1998. According to one government official, "We have been accustomed to flooding but no one expected a flood of this magnitude. Certainly we had no warning because these floods are beyond anything we have experienced in the last thirty to forty years and so that is one of the quirks of nature." If the minister quoted is correct, Arthur's flooding is the worst since Category 4 Hurricane Hattie hit the country in 1961, killing at least 275 people.
Figure 1. Upper left: An aerial view of the flooding in Dangriga Town. Upper right: Section of the Hummingbird Highway near Middlesex Village in Southern Belize washed away, making the roadway impassable.
Lower left: Kendall Bridge, Southern Belize, Washed Away by Flooding Waters. Lower right: Flooding in Sarawee Village, Southern Belize has left many homes under water. Image credit: Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).
The heavy rains from Arthur ended at about 10am EDT Monday June 2. One resident of Ambergris Caye wrote me to say she thought a supercell thunderstorm hit her island at 4:30am June 2, during the height of the rain. She heard the roar one hears from a tornado, she thought. Given the prodigious amount of rain that fell from the very intense thunderstorms over Belize at that time, I wouldn't be surprised if a supercell thunderstorm with a tornado did hit the island.
There has been no heavy rain over Belize for the 24 hours since Monday morning, but additional rains of 1-2 inches could fall over the next day or so, in association with the remains of Arthur.
Satellite estimated rainfall for the 24 hours ending at 8am EDT 6/02/08. The red bullseye marks where up to 11 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours, triggering serious flooding. Image credit: Navy Research Lab, Monterey.
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