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2022 Atlantic hurricane season is already sixth costliest on record – Belize absorbs double impact of Hurricanes Julia and Lisa

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2022. 1:31 pm CST.

Photo Credit: National Hurricane Center/NASA/Wikimedia

By Aaron Humes: Defying pre-season predictions, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends today, turned out to be nearer to the generational average, though no less costly and deadly.

14 named storms formed from 16 total systems; eight of these became hurricanes and two were major hurricanes.

Belize was briefly threatened by Hurricane Julia which formed in early October and became the second storm of the season to cross over into the Pacific basin intact after traversing Nicaragua. It brought heavy flooding to the north and west, affecting mainly agricultural crops. But at the end of October, Hurricane Lisa formed and became the fourth storm to strike the Jewel in early November, landing just north of the Sibun River with its upper quadrant lashing Belize City. The tally of damage is still being estimated a month later. Both were category 1 storms with winds no higher than 90 miles per hour.

The season got off to a slow start, with Alex the first named storm five days after the season began – ending a streak of pre-season named storms that started in 2014.

A further two systems developed on July 1, one of which crossed over into the Pacific basin, a first since 2016. Conditions in late July and August suppressed activity – a combination of high wind shear, drier air, and the presence of the Saharan Air Layer. Activity resumed in September with Hurricanes Danielle and Earl, the latest on record since 2013.

Things speeded up from there with four named storms formed in quick succession; the first, Hurricane Fiona, came three weeks later than normal for a major hurricane and the strongest in Canadian history. Hurricane Ian was the season’s heaviest hitter, inflicting major to catastrophic damage upon western Cuba, Southwestern and Central Florida, and the Carolinas.

The last storm in the season, Hurricane Nicole, made landfall on the coasts of the Bahamas and Florida. It was the first November hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Kate in 1985, and devastated areas that had already been hit by Ian six weeks earlier.

An estimated US$53.52 billion in damage was caused, making the season the sixth-costliest on record, not far off 2021 which was far more active. Some 337 deaths were also caused by the season’s systems from the Caribbean to Central America and the United States.

Even though hurricane season is now over, the threat of storms remains and Belizeans are reminded to review their plans and procedures as we will have to face it all again next June 1.

 

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