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.