Friday, December 10, 2010

Kidnappers Release Dennis Gulck's Teenage Son, Clayton

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Clayton Gulck, Teenage Son of Denny Gulck Kidnapped

See article here on the Rio Dulce Chisme:

Clayton with Gary Waid after catching a tarpon earlier this year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Heavy Rain Coming, Thursday, Friday (Update)

The leading edge of the heavy portion of the moist air mass discussed in the previous post is now arriving in eastern Izabal.

This is the tropics so there are no guarantees but I would prepare for heavy rain tonight (Thursday), all day Friday, possible extreme amounts of rain Friday night, and tapering off some time on Saturday.

Below is the latest water vapor image. White depicts moisture content, not clouds.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Heavy Rain Coming, Thursday, Friday

There's a mass of heavily moisture laden air that is barely starting to arrive tonight (Wednesday night) and will start to make its presence known later tomorrow (Thursday).

I expect heavy rain Thursday night, and Friday day, and possible extreme amounts of rain on Friday night here in the Rio Dulce area.  Extreme would be 7 or 8 inches in one night.

Below is the current water vapor image.  (Those are not clouds.  It's a graphic depicting water content.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Possible Late Season Cyclone Forming

The system circled in the graphic below has been developing slowly for the past few days.  During the past few hours its activity has become much more organized and at the moment it is developing rather rapidly.  Those of us in eastern Guatemala should keep an eye on this one.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tomas at 80 Kts and Strengthening

Hurricane Tomas is presently moving WNW on a course that would pass to the south of Jamaica.  Computer models indicate the storm will turn towards the north as it nears Jamaica and hit Jamaica sometime on Thursday.  However a lot can happen between now (Saturday) and Thursday.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Tomas Looks Like Trouble

The large system which has become Tropical Storm Tomas I've been watching closely for the past few days.  The outflow pattern is a little strange but this system has all the makings of big trouble so we need to keep an eye on it.  It's large, it's developing fast, conditions are good, there's plenty of hot water to fuel it, it's far south, and it's moving west.

Cyclones that form that far to the east of Guatemala usually curve right and head north long before they reach us.  However, at this time of year, at the end of the hurricane season, steering currents and fronts can conspire to prevent a cyclone from following its natural tendency to turn right.  The storm can continue to come west all the way to Central America.  What's more, this system formed far to the south to begin with, which increases the chance of what I just mentioned above.

We'll just have to see what it does.

Unexpected Heavy Rain

Yesterday (Thursday) we got quite a lot of rain.  It started at around 5:30 AM and continued off and on all day and into the night, with occasional lightning and thunder.  For much of Thursday morning the stormy weather was purely local.  For several hours during the morning we had our own private storm that remained stationary and active over eastern Izabal.  It was kind of unusual as there was virtually no other activity for hundreds of miles, but by midday, air movement picked up and patches of rainy weather spread throughout the region.

The cause was a cold front coming down from the north that turned out to be stronger than expected and reaching farther south than expected.  The air here at this time of year is unstable and rain is always possible if slightly cooler air arrives.  On Wednesday we had an extremely hot and humid day, conditions that I expect centered in this region here in eastern Izabal.  When the cooler air approached on Thursday morning, our area was the first to experience precipitation and convection which later spread over a much wider area when the air aloft cooled a bit more.

In all it was quite interesting.  The large amount of rain in eastern Izabal caught everyone by surprise.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Small Local Thunderstorm and Activity in the Atlantic

This time of year the air is very unstable and there's almost always a chance of rain or thunderstorm.  This morning we have a small local thunderstorm bringing rain to eastern Izabal.  It's the only t-storm in Guatemala this morning.  It should clear up later today and we should have very little precipitation for the next four days.

Of greater interest are three active areas out in the Atlantic.  The areas marked 1 and 2 almost certainly too far north to bother us in Guatemala.  But number 3 is interesting.

Most of the cyclones that affect us in eastern Guatemala at this time of year form quite close to us in the area east of Nicaragua.  Cyclones have a tendency to turn right and for most of the hurricane season storms that form far east of us usually turn right and head north long before they reach us.  But at this time of year, late in the season, air currents and fronts are such that they can force a storm to remain to the south.  A storm that forms far south where number 3 is located can come west, all the way to Guatemala, without curving to the right and going north.  So we should keep an eye on the disturbance at number 3 in the graphic below.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hurricane Richard Makes Landfall in Belize

Radar showed the eye of Hurricane Richard made landfall about 20 miles SSW of Belize City about 45 minutes ago.  Max sustained winds were 90 MPH / 150 kmh.

LOCATION...17.2N 88.3W

Hurricane Richard Hits Belize

Hurricane Richard's path shifted slightly to the north since the last update and movement has accelerated to 13 MPH WNW.  It is about 55 miles from Belize City and has strengthened slightly.  Central pressure dropped to 988.  As you can see in the sat image, Hurricane Richard is a tight little hurricane and will mostly likely affect us very little here in Rio Dulce.

LOCATION...17.1N 87.5W

Richard Becomes a Hurricane

Tropical Storm Richard has become Hurricane Richard.  Max sustained winds now 85 MPH.

LOCATION...16.9N 86.9W

Possible Heavy Rain Tonight from Richard

Tropical Storm Richard continues to strengthen very slowly.  Winds are now up to 70 MPH, so not quite a hurricane yet.  It is following the track that was forecast yesterday.

Heavy rains are possible tonight (Sunday night) while the storm makes its closest approach and passes NNE of us here in Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

Location:  16.8N   86.4W
30 mi N of Roatan
Maximum sustained winds: 70 MPH
Movement: WNW at 10 MPH
Minimum central pressure: 990 mb, 29.23 inches

Hurricane warning is in effect for:  Belize and Honduras from Limon to Puerto Cortes and the Bay Islands, Roatan, Utila, Guanaja.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hurricane Warning Zone Extended

Richard is sustaining winds of 65 MPH so it's not quite a hurricane yet.  Movement continues west at 8 MPH.

Hurricane warning zone has been extended to include the north coast of Honduras, the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, and the entire coastline of Belize.

Possible Hurricane Richard, Update

For the latest updates, go to the front page:

During the past five hours, Tropical Storm Richard suddenly "woke up".  Winds are now reaching 65 MPH, and movement has accelerated to 8 MPH, still moving west.

Latest forecast shows Richard reaching hurricane strength as it passes over the Bay Islands and making landfall a bit south of Belize City.  Hurricane warnings are now in effect along the north coast of Honduras to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

Tropical Storm Richard

Tropical Storm Richard began moving slowly west yesterday (Friday) afternoon and this morning the storm center is located at the northeastern tip of Honduras.  The previous track predictions had the storm moving out into the Gulf of Honduras, strengthening to a hurricane and making landfall north of Belize City.  The new track forecast has moved somewhat south, where the storm would skirt along the northern coast of Honduras and make landfall south of Belize City.  Such a track keeps half of the storm over land so Richard would not strengthen to a hurricane but would pass much closer to us here in Izabal.  If the storm follows the track in the diagram below there would be no significant wind here in Rio Dulce but we would likely receive a lot of rain.

If the track and movement shown below is correct, closest approach would occur from tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon through the wee hours of Monday morning.  The official forecast predicts a huge amount of rain (120mm) during that 12 hour period.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tropical Storm Richard

At this time, Tropical Storm Richard is stationary, pretty much in the same location as shown in the graphic in the previous post, 35 kt max wind, central pressure 1006.  Waiting to see what it will do.  It is expected to strengthen and start moving west.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hurricane Richard?

The last three posts have discussed the mass of convective storms in our area here in the western Caribbean.  Steering currents at this time of year are complex and confused and this system has been staggering like a drunk in the region northeast of Honduras.  It was headed generally north and northeast, taking it farther away from us, but it made a 180 degree turn to the right, coming south again.  It has also strengthened and become Tropical Depresson 19.

TD19 is in warm water and conditions are good for development.  Outflow is already well developed and the system is expected to strengthen rapidly.  There is wide disagreement amongst the various computer models forecasting the track for this system but for the time being the highest probability track is shown in the graphic below.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Storm System is Moving Away

As can be seen from the satellite image, this system is moving north and east, away from us here in eastern Guatemala.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Developing Tropical Storm -- and Some Humor

This is the system discussed in the previous post.  Its movement changed from WNW to North so most of the system remained over water and it has developed quite nicely.  It will likely become a TD tonight.  Fortunately for us, it is moving north, taking it further away from us here in eastern Guatemala.  We are also now in the third quadrant of the storm which means we will likely see no effects whatsoever from this storm unless it changes course.

Speaking of changing course, I find the following graphic very humorous.  Depicted are the track forecasts for the above system generated by the various weather modeling and prediction systems.  Most of the time, these models are generally in agreement.  But as you can see, this is not the case for the above storm.  This illustrates the extreme complexity and chaotic behavior that occurs this time of year in this part of the Caribbean.  We have the trades, the convergence zone, tropical waves, unstable air, and now fronts from the north all colliding in our region.  Weather forecasting in the convergence zone is always dicey and at this time of year one can really only make general statements.  A gypsy fortune teller could probably produce forecasts as well as anyone.

Some Disagreement Amongst the Computer Models ?!
(Click to view larger)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Developing Slowly

This mass of convective storms mentioned in the previous post shows some overall rotation but development is inhibited by interaction with land.  Currents are pushing the system slowly towards the northwest.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Most Dangerous Time of Year in the Western Caribbean

It's October 16th which means we are entering the period of maximum danger from hurricanes in our region here in eastern Guatemala.  Towards the end of hurricane season, from the middle of October to the middle of November is when conditions  produce strong hurricanes in our vicinity and fronts from the north to keep those hurricanes down low at our latitude.  Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane Hattie are two examples of very destructive late-season hurricanes in the western Caribbean.  Anything that come into our region during this time must be watched closely.

And yet again, we have another mass of convective storm activity developing east of Nicaragua.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tropical Storm Paula Might Do Something Unusual

Paula has weakened to a tropical storm and is now affecting the far western tip of Cuba.  A couple of the forecast models have Paula tracking the north coast of Cuba, through the Florida Straits and out into the Atlantic.  However most of the models have Paula approximately following the track shown in the graphic below.

If the track curves to the right and across Cuba, it will be interesting to see what happens when the storm moves back into the Western Caribbean.  Will it strengthen again?  Where will it go?  The track will likely continue curving to the right and Paula might come back into our neighborhood again.

Tropical Storm Paula.
Click to view larger.

Monday, October 11, 2010

We Got Lucky Again, Probably

As soon as Tropical Storm Paula got over the water it changed course to NW.  If that course holds we'll probably see few effects here in Rio Dulce because we'll be in the third and fourth quadrants of the storm.

Bingo! Tropical Storm Paula

Well there it is as expected, Tropical Storm Paula.  This storm is expected to become Hurricane Paula rather  quickly.

The confused movement of Tropical Storm Paula.
Click to view larger.

Rain This Afternoon

The clouds that are over Rio Dulce right now are associated with the disturbance mentioned in the last two posts.  Wind is picking up, pressure falling.  I expect it will start raining sooner rather than later, probably in the next hour or two. Might this become Tropical Storm Paula?

Rotation of the system is increasing.  The center of the disturbance is still over land and should come over water again by this evening.  Rapid development is possible because conditions are pretty good and outflow is already well established.  The storm is close to us, developing right in our area, so stay tuned for further notices.

I find it interesting that yesterday's sunrise was very red and I thought about this:

"Red sky at morning,
   sailorman's warning.
Red sky at night,
   sailor's delight."

Rain By Tonight

The system shown in the previous post is not yet a cyclone, it's barely rotating, but it looks pretty organized to me and it has strong convection and good outflow.  NOAA and the Hurricane Center say nothing about eastern Guatemala, just rain in Nicaragua and eastern Honduras.  The official forecast for Puerto Barrios shows nothing over the next five days.

I disagree.  The system has distinct rain bands, is moving directly towards us, and it looks to me like those rain bands will start to affect us here in Rio Dulce / Puerto Barrios by around 6:00 PM tonight (Monday night), if not sooner.

Slowly Developing System

Below is a closer view of the system mentioned in the previous post.  It continues to develop slowly and move west-northwest.  The center of the system in this photo is located about 60 miles southeast of the point where the Honduras-Nicaragua border reaches the coast.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Possible Cyclone We Need to Watch

The last one was no threat because it was moving north and there were no indications that it might turn towards us in Guatemala.  This next one shown in the image below is being steered by airflows that will likely bring it closer to us as it develops.  This system has been there for a number of days without much development but during the day today (Saturday) it began to develop pretty rapidly.  We'll see what happens with it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here We Go Again, But It's Not a Threat

Again we appear to have a cyclone forming in our neighborhood but it should not be a threat.  The system is moving north and the lowest pressures in the system are around Isla de Juventud, already well north of us here in Guatemala.  Even though this system is not yet a cyclone, near tropical storm force winds are occurring east of Isla de Juventud.

This system will be a problem for Cuba and in another day will likely become a problem for southern Florida. This system is very broad and will affect us here in Guatemala with increased rain.  I expect moderate to heavy rain every night this week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Here We Go Again - Maybe

Even as Tropical Storm Matthew was passing us here in Rio Dulce, another large mass of disorganized thunderstorms and a broad low was forming off the northeastern tip of Honduras.  It gradually strengthened and drifted very slowly north.  Conditions were fairly good for cyclone development but there have been no tropical waves or influences that might trigger rapid development.  The region continues to develop slowly and drift north.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matthew Has Left Guatemala

Tropical Storm, now Tropical Depression Matthew did not slow down and stop for a while in Belize as expected, which would have kept the storm in our area for at least another day.  During the night the storm kept moving, crossed the Peten, and is now over Palenque in southern Mexico.  It is expected to continue moving WNW and further away from us here in eastern Guatemala.

As is typical after the passage of such a storm we enjoyed a relatively fresh and cool afternoon yesterday and cool night last night.  Once the storm is out of the area, our heat and humidity will return along with thunderstorms.

Little rain, if any, is expected in Rio Dulce today (Sunday), tonight, and Monday, however expect heavy rain and thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday nights.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Worst is Probably Over in Izabal

The center of Tropical Storm Matthew passed northeast of us here in Rio Dulce this morning and we are now in the relatively peaceful third quadrant of the storm.  Rain stopped several hours ago and we have partial sun. There was no significant wind, just a few gusts of around 15 to 20 MPH.  On the satellite imagery the heavy moisture in the region is in quadrants 1, 2, and 4 as one would expect.  I expect no additional heavy rain here until the storm moves a couple of hundred miles away and moisture can come into our area again, probably late Monday and Monday night.

The storm has weakened to a tropical depression as it moved over southern Belize but as you can see in the track forecast below, it is expected to pause and make a little move to the southwest before again turning northwest which will keep the storm in our immediate area for much longer than one would normally expect.  We'll have unsettled conditions and partly cloudy weather for a couple of days before weather returns to normal for this time of year.  The Peten, the Verapaces, Belize, and the Yucatan will probably receive heavy rains for the next 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Matthew 8:30 AM Local Time

25Sep10 0830 Local Time - Visible Light Image

Heavy Rain in Eastern Guatemala

As expected, Tropical Storm Matthew has been dropping large amounts of rain in eastern Guatemala.  Steady rain began in at around midnight, becoming constant heavy rain around 3 AM.  The images below show the storm's shape and position at 6:00 AM local time.

25Sep10 0600 Local Time, Infrared

25Sep10 0600 Local Time, GOES Water Vapor
From what I could see passing through Fronteras at 5:30 AM, there is strong runoff but no serious flooding. I've seen worse flooding at times in the past so apparently the rain has been falling steadily without "cloudbursts" that exceed the capacity of normal runoff channels. The streets are not flooded and there are no temporary rivers flowing across the highway.

The most striking thing was the darkness.  It should have been light at 5:30 AM but it was still pitch dark, streetlights on.  With the center of the storm over us and as can be seen from the IR satellite photo above, the clouds above us are dense and probably 10 or 12 miles thick.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Heavy Rain Tonight (Friday)

The change in storm track now puts us in front of the approaching storm where a lot more rain occurs, and sooner.  The original track put us in the third quadrant where there is often little rain or wind.

The result will probably be heavy rains tonight (Friday) and into Saturday morning.  Rainfall amounts could be extremely heavy.

24Sep10 1800 Local - Infrared Cloud Temperature
The pink and white areas indicate temperatures of 70 to 90 below zero equating to 40,000 to 60,000 feet

24Sep10 1800 Local - Current surface analysis and projected position in 24 hours.

24Sep10 1800 Local - GOES West Moisture Content

Matthew Much Closer But Weaker

Good news and bad news:  Bad news: The latest track for Matthew brings it directly to us here in Rio Dulce.  Good news:  The new track is almost entirely over land so the storm will weaken to a tropical depression before arriving.  Bad news: Coming directly to us will likely greatly increase the amount of heavy rain we receive.  The previous track had us on the southwest side of the storm where there is much less wind and precipitation.  If the track shown below comes to pass we will probably get an excessive amount of rain here in Rio Dulce.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tropical Storm Matthew

There's a lot of convective energy in the area where TD 15 formed so it didn't take long to become Tropical Storm Matthew.

See previous post for details.

Tropical Depression 15 is Coming

As discussed and forecast in the previous three posts as this feature developed, we now have Tropical Depression 15.  It is expected to reach hurricane strength by the time it makes closest approach to us.  Latest track and strength forecast is shown below:

Cyclone Probability Now at 80 Percent

The region circled in red and marked 60% on the graphic in the previous post is now at 80% probability for formation of a cyclone.  This area is associated with a vigorous low, plenty of unstable moisture over a wide area, and a wave.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Possible Developing Cyclone in Our Neighborhood

That mass of moist unstable air that I wrote about yesterday that I expect to arrive around Saturday appears to be showing signs of organization.

As we get deeper into the hurricane season and close to October is when cyclones in the Caribbean tend to come further west before turning north.  This tendency to come further west plus a cyclone that at such a low latitude increases the potential danger in eastern Guatemala.  October is the month to watch out for.  Hurricane Mitch is an example.  This system bears a close watch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Weather Change Coming

For the past week we haven't had much rain here in Rio Dulce but it's looking like that's about to change over the next few days.

Masses of warm moist air are moving into the area combined with cooler air aloft.  Starting today (Tuesday) and for the next several days there is an increasing chance of daytime thunderstorms and rain, plus the usual rain and thunderstorms at night but much heavier.  Right now it looks like the rainfall will peak on Saturday afternoon and night with possibly a huge amount of rainfall Saturday night.  By huge I mean double the heaviest rainfall day we've had so far this rainy season and more than enough to cause flooding in the low lying areas of Rio Dulce / Fronteras.

Conditions in the tropics are very unstable so it's impossible to make solid forecasts but the above conditions are coming together.  Be prepared.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dia de Independencia, September 15, 2010

All across Guatemala today we celebrated the independence of Central America from Spain, 189 years ago.  Yesterday the country was criss-crossed by thousands of runners carrying torches for long distances.  Preparations began early this morning for parades and ceremonies at local schools.

Here is a set of photos of the parade and festivities in La Libertad, a small aldea a few miles north of Rio Dulce:

Dia de Independencia - DSCF7622

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tropical Storm Karl in the Bay of Honduras

As expected, we now have Tropical Storm Karl out in the Bay of Honduras.  It's sustaining winds of 35 kts and central pressure is 1000 mb.  Heavy rains are expected over Cuba, Caymans, Yucatan, and parts of Belize.  The storm is passing NE of us, so should not affect us too much here in Izabal but we should watch for any changes.

A Full Lineup of Tropical Storms

As can be seen in the NOAA image below we have a full lineup of storms on deck in the Atlantic.  Julia is a category 1 hurricane, Igor is a category 4 hurricane, and right in our backyard northeast of Honduras we have a mass of disorganized convective activity that has been gradually strengthening for the past few days as it moved into our area.  This region is expected to continue to develop and will likely become a cyclone.  A hurricane hunter aircraft is going to investigate today.

However it is not expected that any of these features will trouble us here in Guatemala.  If the activity northeast of Honduras develops into a cyclone we'll be on the wrong side of it to receive much moisture, if any, as it moves across the Yucatan.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunset at Punta Caimanes

With all the trouble that rainy season brings, it also brings scenes like this one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Were You Doing on 9/11 ?

The Maya Paradise BBS has a thread where you can post your stories:

Let's hear your stories of that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Heavy Rains and Flooding, Not Just in Guatemala

We're not alone here in Guatemala with our heavy rains and flooding.

Watch what happened yesterday on the Amalfi coast of Italy. The video starts slowly so be patient and watch the whole thing"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rain Damage--Update to previous article

Damage in western Guatemala from the incessant rain continues to increase. Yesterday afternoon (Sunday) a landslide occurred at km 28 on the Atlantic highway in San José del Golfo, killing one person and injuring 26 others. This landslide affects transportation between Guatemala City and eastern and northwestern Guatemala.

Conred is now reporting 255 incidents around the country involving landslides, collapses, or flooding. 50,634 persons are now affected, 11,495 have been evacuated from threatened areas, 14,900 are in shelters, 44 persons have died, 56 injured, and 16 are missing.

Previous article

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hot in Rio Dulce

As I write this at 3:00 PM on Sunday, the outside shade temperature right now is 37.4C and the RH is 55%. That's a heat index of 50C / 122F.


One Disaster After Another in Guatemala

The constant rains in the western half of Guatemala have been causing so many problems and disasters that it's hard to keep up with it. I've been waiting for things to calm down a bit before writing another article but instead of calming down it's getting worse.

This morning it was reported that approximately 40 rescue workers and volunteers working to recover bodies from a landslide in Solola were themselves buried by a second landslide that occurred around 7:00 PM last night. This landslide is located at km 171 at Cumbre de Alaska, Solola. Nine were reported dead as of 10:15 AM this morning.

Flooding, landslides, collapses, road and bridge washouts have been happening all over western Guatemala. The map posted with this article was published last night by Conred and shows a list of events and their locations. Clicking the map should allow you to view it at full size.

The Departments of Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez, and Escuintla have been placed on red alert due to the severity of the damage. Because of widespread damage to the roads and blockages due to landslides in western Guatemala, the government is recommending against travel by road.

The latest numbers were released at 7:30 PM last night and report 21 dead and 34,146 persons displaced.

The major rivers of Guatemala continue at above alert levels and are not expected to drop any time soon.

Tropical Depression 11E which formed from a trough over Oaxaca, Mexico, was the main cause of the most recent damage. The remnant of 11E, which is very large and affects a wide area, has now moved over the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen rapidly. This system will likely bring another mass of moist unstable air over Guatemala today (Sunday), and more thunderstorms and rain.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Top Five Ways You Know It's Been Raining Heavy in Rio Dulce

1) The empty Coke bottles on your porch are full of water.

2) A rainbow-colored stain on the water where your dinghy used to be.

3) Concrete walkways are dark green or black instead of white.

4) Boaters stop complaining about getting "dinghy-butt".

5) The parking lot entrance is now the boat launching ramp.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vice-President Espada Assesses Damage in Izabal

When news came of the bridge collapse at Entre Rios, Vice-President Dr. Rafael Espada and the Secretary of Communications flew to Izabal yesterday to assess the damage from the air and to meet with local officials.

The Vice-President, General Juan José Ruiz Morales, Chief of National Defense, Lic. Guillermo Castillo, Minister of Communications, Infrastructure, and Housing, and Engineer Alejandro Maldonado Lutomirsky, Executive Secretary of Conred held a press conference to disseminate information and answer questions.

The heavy rains during the past few days have now affected or displaced 3,748 persons. 1,179 persons are in shelters, 490 are homeless. There have been 10 injuries reported and 4 deaths. 654 homes have been damaged. 21 flooding events occurred during the 48 hours of the weekend affecting the departments of Alta Verapaz, Escuintla, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Jutiapa, Petén, Quiché, Sacatepéquez, Sololá, and Zacapa.

The Motagua River continues to register 10 feet above flood stage so the danger to communities along the river in Izabal remains high.

Conred has authorized the distribution of 250 tons of food and supplies to the affected areas.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alert: Motagua Flood Warning

INSIVUMEH, the meteorology and hydrology arm of the Guatemalan government has issued a notice that the Motagua River level is at 5.2 meters at the Gualan station near Zacapa. That's ten feet over flood stage. Flood alert level at that station is 2.0 meters.

All communities along the Motagua from Gualan to the Atlantic coast, including Morales and Puerto Barrios should prepare for flooding.

The heavy rains we have been getting daily are expected to continue. Guatemala City is experiencing heavy rain as this is being written.

Bridge Collapses at Entre Rios

The bridge crossing the Motagua River at Entre Rios has collapsed.

Heavy rains have causes the Motagua River to flood and carry all manner of debris including large trees downriver. The bridge has been threatening to collapse ever since its support pilings were damaged by impacts from large trees floating down the river.

Approximately 40 meters of the 400 meter long bridge have collapsed and fallen into the river, halting traffic between Honduras and Guatemala through this important border crossing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heavy Rains Cause Landslides and Flooding

Heavy rains during the past 24 hours have caused damage in various parts of Guatemala, affecting 755 persons and injuring 57. Flooding, landslides, and mudslides have occurred in the departments of El Peten, Guatemala, Jutiapa, Chiquimula, Solola, and Huehuetenango.

30 people were affected and five homes damaged in Jalpatagua El Rosario, Jutiapa where the river overflowed its banks. Backhoes are being used to dredge the riverbed.

The lake at La Laguna, Jacaltenango, Huehuetenango overflowed, damaging 26 homes, affecting 246 persons and injuring 3.

In El Peten, the Usumacinta River overflowed, affecting two communities of La Libertad. 29 homes are damaged and 174 persons affected.

Four landslides occurred in the Department of Guatemala, triggering evacuations. One of the landslides occurred in Mixco, Zone 4, near 10 Calle, 11 Avenida. 30 persons were affected. Four homes were severely damaged and 12 persons affected in El Naranjito, Mixco. Two slides occurred in Zone 13 of Guatemala City affecting 240 persons who had to be evacuated. 11 homes were damaged and 12 persons are homeless. Another landslide occurred at Plaza de Toros affecting 23 persons and damaging 5 homes.

Due to oversaturated soil, nine landslides occurred that are affecting highways in various parts of the country. Among the locations affected are km 105, 140, and 170 of the Panamerican Highway, at km 157 in Chiquimula, and at km 320 in Malacatancito, Huehuetenango.

Three landslides occurred in Andrés Semetabaj, Solola, one of which is blocking the road to the departmental capital.

Guatemala continues under an orange alert as more rains are expected.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Heavy Rains Damage Assessment

Tropical storm activity off the Pacific coast of Guatemala has been responsible for above normal rainfall in the western parts of Guatemala. This has resulted in numerous landslides, flooding rivers, and washed out bridges and roads. The departments most affected include Escuintla, Chimaltenango, Izabal, Guatemala, Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, and Zacapa.

So far this rainy season 20,000 persons have been affected and over 3,000 homes have been damaged. More than 400 persons are living in shelters.

President Álvaro Colom has announced that government funds reserved for disaster relief and infrastructure repair are nearly exhausted and he is reaching the limit of his capacity to respond to the need. Collapsed bridges and roads need to be repaired and the president has demanded that Congress increase the budget for this work by Q1.3 billion plus approve the US $200 million appropriation already pending.

Flooding in Morales

The heavy rains we've been getting in Guatemala are causing rivers to flood. Numerous rivers throughout Guatemala have been running at or above alert levels for weeks. When we get an especially heavy rainfall over a wide area like we did two nights ago, the rivers which are already high can overflow their banks and cause flooding. This usually occurs one or two days after a heavy rain because it takes time for the runoff to come off the mountains, down the creeks and tributaries, and into the major rivers like the Motagua that runs through Izabal.

Last night (Wednesday night) the Motagua overflowed its banks in the Morales area and caused flooding in Colonia La Bomba and the community of Creek Zarco. 30 homes are damaged and 164 persons affected.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rain Every Night

We got quite a bit of rain last night (Monday night) here in Izabal. I was expecting about 25 to 30mm and we got 50mm.

For the next several days there shouldn't be much rain during the day and the heat index should get up into the 40's (Celsius). But expect a significant amount of rain (10 to 15mm or more) every night for the next five nights.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rain This Weekend?

The official forecast says just small amounts of rain tonight (Friday) and through the weekend but I'm not so sure. There is a huge area of moist unstable air all around us and a tropical wave. This airmass had a good chance of becoming a cyclone if it had not come over land in eastern Honduras.

Whatever happens, I expect the majority of the rain to fall in central and western Guatemala, making the landslide problems worse, but I expect we'll get quite a bit here in Izabal too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rain Coming Soon

A few days ago we had a tropical wave come through here in eastern Guatemala and nothing happened. The reason that nothing happened is the wave did not have significant moisture to work with. A pressure disturbance passing through relatively dry air doesn't trigger any activity. But when a tropical wave travels with or passes through a moist air mass, it can trigger precipitation. The extremely heavy rainfall we got a week and a half ago resulted from such a coincidence.

I've been watching this coming for several days but things can change unpredictably in the tropics and I wasn't a sure if the moisture would get here in time for the wave or if the moist air mass would stay mostly south of us. But it's looking like we have another moisture maximum combined with a wave arriving Saturday night, so be prepared. I expect significant nighttime rainfall to continue for several nights after that but the heaviest should be Saturday night.

For those of you who are into weather forecasting here in the tropics, one of the resources I use is the GOES-E water vapor image here:

Note that what is shown in the image is NOT clouds. White indicates high moisture content, black indicates very dry air, and grayscale in between.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rio Polochic Flooding in El Estor

The heavy rains we have been getting here in eastern Guatemala for the past week and a half have caused all the rivers and creeks in the area to rise. The Rio Polochic is flooding right now at 3.32 meters. It peaked at 3.64 meters. The flood alert level for the Polochic is 2.25 meters. This has caused the Rio Polochic to overflow its banks in several locations, flooding more than 67 homes in the Rancho Grande area of El Estor and affecting over 400 persons.

CONRED has sent emergency aid sufficient for 70 families to the affected area and the Guatemalan Red Cross has mobilized to assist those in need and evaluate the situation.

Freak Winds Hit Morales

Unusual winds hit the Playitas area of Morales yesterday (August 11, 2010), taking part or all of the roofs off of eight homes. The roof of the local salon was also damaged.

CONRED is distributing food aid to the affected families.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mayan Calendar

One would think that a web site called Maya Paradise would have a Mayan Calendar. Well now it does. Today's date is shown on the Maya Paradise main index page in the three main Mayan calendars, the Long Count, the Tzolkin, and the Haab.

The code for the Mayan calendars were actually a freebie that fell out of code I had to write to solve certain database problems for the Maya Paradise Chronology, namely that spreadsheets and databases are incapable of natively handling dates in the far past, dates prior to 1900 AD, prior to 1563 AD, prior to 100 AD, depending on which tool one is using. The Chronology needs to handle dates back to 10,000 BC and farther. Once I was writing code for calendrics it was easy to do the Mayan calendars at the same time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Break from the Rain

It looks like we're going to get a break from the rain, at least for a couple of days, maybe more. The last tropical wave that came through here dropped a huge amount of rain in Rio Dulce, even by local standards. The river level rose markedly and the color of the water finally changed to "rainy season color" from silt washed down the Polochic by the heavy rains.

Due to unstability of tropical air at this time of year it's always possible for local storms to occur, especially late afternoon and early evening when the temperature decreases, but it looks like no significant rain until at least Friday evening.

There are two disturbed areas out in the Caribbean that could develop and bear watching but are too far away to affect us right now.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More Rain Later Today and Tonight

Here in Rio Dulce we received a large amount of rain last night, raising the river level and causing minor flooding in different places. Just north of Banrural in Fronteras a temporary river of water about 20 meters wide was crossing the highway early this morning.

While the weather has calmed down a bit and it stopped raining, don't be fooled. There's more coming. We got a break this morning but cloud density is increasing again and by tonight I expect we'll get plenty more rain, possibly more than we got last night, unbelievable as that might seem.

Elsewhere, the tropical depression four, mentioned in a previous post, has grown to become Tropical Storm Colin, shown in red below.

Lightning at 9,000 Frames per Second

Since it's that time of year for thunderstorms, here's a fascinating reminder of the danger.

Two seconds of lightning filmed at 9,000 frames per second and played back 50 times slower than real-time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Probable Heavy Rain Tonight In Eastern Guatemala

The system discussed in the previous post, circled in yellow below, continues to approach. As predicted, the wave itself is crossing onto land right about now (midday, Monday). I continue to expect the moisture associated with this wave to start affecting us tonight, probably early this evening, with increased rain, possibly a lot of rain, and some thunderstorms. The effects will continue for about 24 hours.

In addition, we now have something else to keep an eye on. That wave and active airmass that came off Cape Verde island two days ago has developed into tropical depression 4. It will likely turn right before making trouble for us in eastern Guatemala.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rain Monday Night and Tuesday

We had a tropical wave come through last night, triggering a sizeable amount of rain. For the next 24 to 36 hours we should get less rain and even some sun.

Shown circled in yellow below is the system that I wrote about in yesterday's blog post. There is a tropical wave coming through that system that should reach the eastern limit of Honduras around noon tomorrow (Monday) and we may start seeing effects here by Monday night. The system was showing signs of rotation yesterday, which I didn't mention. The rotation continues today which means there's slight chance of further development. It also means that the system will probably hold together.

However, the system may not bring as much rain to us here in eastern Guatemala as it appeared yesterday. The track of the system and the stronger part of the wave has moved somewhat south and most of the moisture may pass south of us.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Man the Pumps

Here in Guatemala we are finally getting a proper rainy season. There is some rain every day, occasional heavy rain, and thunderstorms almost every day. Here in Rio Dulce in the past 12 hours we got a lot of steady heavy rain. The main cause for this is a continuous series of tropical waves and moist air coming off the coast of Africa, crossing the Atlantic and Caribbean, and arriving here in Guatemala.

From time to time, a combination of waves, moist air, and sometimes an upper level trough (check your 500 mb charts) will result in more intense weather. Such a configuration is on its way and looks like it will arrive Monday night.

Since this is the tropics and conditions are unstable it's impossible to make solid predictions but what's approaching us is a wave embedded in a high amplitude moisture maximum with moderate to strong convection. This feature could bring very heavy rains (5 to 10 times what we've been getting daily) Monday night, Tuesday day, and Tuesday night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Torito, Feria de Rio Dulce

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marching Drummers, Rio Dulce Feria, April 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tropical Storm Bonnie

Location: 24.7N 79.8W, 80 mi SSE of Miami, 75 mi E of Marathon, FL
Movement: WNW at 16 kts.
Minimum central pressure: 1008 mb
Max sustained wind: 35 kts, gusting 45 kts

Tropical Storm Bonnie is loaded with moisture and has good outflow. Computer models project the path as pretty much a straight line across the Florida Keys and to the Mississippi Delta / New Orleans.

BP is evacuating the site of the Macondo well blowout because the projected path goes right through there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tropical Storm Wastes No Time

Early this morning it was a disorganized mass of thunderstorms. Then the circulation closed and it became Tropical Depression 3, discussed in this post.

This afternoon it strengthened and has now become Tropical Storm Bonnie. Here's the data right now:

Location: 22.9N 75.4W, 200 mi SE of Nassau, 415 mi ESE of Key West.
Max sustained wind: 40 MPH
Min. central pressure 1005 mb
Movement: NW at 14 MPH

Projected path takes it on a straight course over the Florida Keys and towards Lousiana.

Desfile de Los Vaqueros, Feria, Rio Dulce, 16Apr10

It's a Zoo Out There

All kinds of things are happening in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. A couple of days ago I mentioned a disorganized area of thunderstorms over the Leeward Islands that appeared likely to organize and it has done so. It is marked in red on the image below. The system now has closed circulation and is being assisted by a high over the Bahamas. It's expected to become a tropical depression later this morning and seems likely to be the first storm of the season to affect south Florida.

Around midnight last night we got clobbered here in eastern Guatemala by a two hour thunderstorm that brought a huge amount of rain. This was the result of another tropical wave that passed us combined with the influence of a low located in the Bay of Campeche that is affecting a very wide area including eastern Guatemala. This 1008 mb low is marked in orange on the image below and shows signs of development. It will move slowly away from us and so is not a threat but it's likely to bring us more rain.

Lastly there is another tropical wave packed with moisture coming. Presently located at 82W, it should reach eastern Honduras by tonight and affect us possibly tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

For a complete weather overview including temperature and precipitation forecasts, all on one page: Tropical Weather

Tropical Rain

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Waves and More Waves

At this time of year, during the rainy season in Guatemala, or "invierno" (winter) as it's locally called, we get tropical waves that produce rain. One after another they are coming now.

Last night we got a good amount of rain and more is coming. Another tropical wave loaded with moisture is located around 87 degrees west and is coming to us and there's another one behind that. We might get a little break in the rain during the day today but another mass of moisture looks like it will arrive late this afternoon.

We appear to be getting a normal rainy season, which is a welcome relief after the 19 month drought we just had. In 2009, our rainy season failed to occur. So for those of you who have been here less than two years, what we're having right now is normal. If you haven't bought an umbrella yet, you might consider it. If all goes as expected, the weather we are getting now will continue into October and possibly early November.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rain in Our Future

Two tropical waves are affecting us here in Eastern Guatemala right now. One just passed us and another is over eastern Honduras and approaching at 15 kts. Both waves have air masses associated with them that are loaded with maximum moisture. So expect intermittent rain and possible thunderstorms over the next few days.

The forecast for Eastern Guatemala indicates a moderate amount of rain (about 10mm) each day for the next several days, although heavy downpours are always possible because the air is so unstable.

Out over the Leeward Islands is an area to keep an eye on. Shown circled in the image below is a large area of disorganized thunderstorms that is showing rotation and circulation. There are no significant features around that system that would inhibit outflow so it's probably going to develop.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Unstable Air Today

The air over Eastern Guatemala is very unstable today so clouds / rain / thunderstorms can develop in a heartbeat.

Bring your umbrella!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Moisture Coming To Guatemala

It appears that the moist air mass mentioned in the previous post (#2 in the image) is becoming more active due to interactions with a ridge. This moist air was expected to bring rain for this weekend, mainly on Sunday, and now convective activity is increasing.

There's a small but non-zero probability that the mass could start rotating. If that happens then the system will throw moisture out over a much wider area and it could develop into a tropical storm, so it's something to keep an eye on because it's quite close and will likely bring significant rain this weekend.

The region marked #1 in the image started to get interesting early this morning because it has a good chance for development but it's far away and not a worry to Guatemala at this time.