Summary of the hurricane season 2001

Report
from Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency
Published on 14 Dec 2001


The 2001 hurricane season was above average.

In December 2000 Professor William M Gray et al, forecasted that the 2001 hurricane season would be a below average hurricane season. However, at the beginning of the 2001 hurricane season, this team updated their forecast on June 07, 2001 to indicate that the season would be above average consisting of 12 named storms, 7 hurricanes and 3 intense hurricanes. The long-term averages are: Tropical Storms-10, Hurricanes-6 and Major Hurricanes-2. (NOAA, 2001).

Whilst the season emerged as an above average season, it was a more active season than was anticipated; nine (9) of the fifteen (15) named storms became hurricanes, four (4) of these became major hurricanes registering Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. In fact, the 2001Hurricane Season became very active during the last three (3) months of the season. Indeed, a first occurrence noted this year was the recording of three hurricanes during the last month of the season - November.

The major hurricanes, IRIS and MICHELLE affected the Caribbean causing 48 deaths, extensive flooding resulting in billions of dollars in damage. IRIS caused significant damage in Belize while MICHELLE affected both the Bahamas and Jamaica. Belize was affected by Tropical Storm Chantal and Hurricane Iris, both causing significant damages to the country’s economy.

Participating States Summary

Tropical Storm Chantal

TS Chantal affected Belize on August 21, 2001 with trailing feeder bands of rains. These Bands accounted for a total of 10.0 to 15.00 inches of rain in the areas of Ambergris Caye and Corozal, where average rainfall for the month of August normally range between 5.0 to 8.0 inches. In the areas closest to the border with Mexico, rainfall totals may have been as high as 20 inches.

More than 7,000 persons in the Belize City and Orange Districts areas were affected by the passage of Chantal. The bulk of this number represents displaced persons who opted to leave the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Walker. However most of the residents of Corozal and Orange Walk Districts were affected by the passage of the storm.

Damages caused by the storm were estimated at $7.8M in direct damages and $23.5M indirectly. Much of the damage represented losses to the agriculture sector, tourism and superficial. Damages to buildings, landscaping, loss of palapas, piers and infrastructure resulting from wave and flood damage were also included.

Hurricane Iris

Hurricane Iris, a Category 4 system affected the southern district of Belize during the period October 8-9, 2001 resulting in damages now estimated at US$500M.

Iris with winds up to 220 kilometers per hour (140 mph) and heavy rainfall affected the southern coastal and inland villages of Belize. The primary areas affected were the districts of Stann Creek and Toledo.

Significant damage was experienced in the agriculture, housing and tourism sectors. According to Government sources, 21,568 persons were directly affected and 47,000 persons indirectly affected. Twenty-two (22) persons were confirmed dead, 8 missing and 3 718 homes destroyed. Over 3,000 persons were in shelter in Toledo.

The CDERA Coordinating Unit initiated a number of proposals to solicit assistance from its cadre of donor agencies for the Government and people of Belize. A total of US$269 000 was pledged by agencies such as ECHO, CDB, CIDA and technical personnel by the US Government. The assistance is being used to facilitate the recovery effort, safe construction training, house repairs, provide house supplies, transportation, logistics and telecommunications.

Hurricane Michelle

Michelle started as a broad low-pressure area in the southwestern Caribbean Sea on October 29, 2001 and developed into a Tropical Storm before becoming a hurricane on November 2, 2001. It began a slow turn northward on the 3rd and with wind intensity of 140 mph it crossed the coastal islands of Cuba on the 4th November. As it weakened, the storm continued northeastward through the Bahamas. Michelle left a trail of damage and death from Central America to the Bahamas. There were 17 deaths recorded, with 2 in Jamaica. Damages were reported in the Bahamas and extensive flooding in Jamaica.

The primary areas affected in Jamaica were the Parishes of Portland, St Mary, St Ann, St Catherine, and St Andrew. The worst effects were experienced by Portland and to a lesser extent, St Mary. Ten communities were cut off from vehicular access, with a population of approximately four thousand (4,000) needing supplies. Approximately one hundred and fifty (150) persons needed to be placed in shelters.

Damages were in the Agriculture sector, Tourism/Commerce and Industry. Critical facilities and utilities such as electricity and water also received damage.

Tropical Storm Jerry

Tropical Storm Jerry, a tropical wave which developed into a depression about 620 miles east-southeast of Barbados threatened the islands of the Eastern Caribbean namely Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago during the period October 6th to 8th, 2001. The system with maximum wind strength of 50mph did not adversely affect any of CDERA Participating States. Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were put on storm watch. The eye of the storm passed close to St. Vincent.

Conclusion

Although the season was extremely active, the effect on Participating States was minimal. Belize unfortunately experienced adverse effects from both Tropical Storm Chantal and Hurricane Iris which resulted in the loss of income from the economic sector.

Most of the hurricanes did not make landfall and this may account for the minimal impact on the Participating States. Where they did affect Participating States, there was immense flooding, responses were undertaken at the national level with minimal input at the regional level.

Initial Lessons Learnt

The end of the 2001 hurricane season provides an opportunity to reflect on the initial lessons learnt. The following are some of these lessons:

  • Training in Disaster Management as an investment makes a difference.
  • Relief distribution systems have also been enhanced. This was apparent as the work of the UNDAC team did not duplicate but rather relieved/enhanced national capacity.
  • Countries should use every opportunity of the activation of the regional response mechanism to review existing plans and procedures.
  • There is a clear need to find the delicate balance between adequate warning and public confidence.
  • There is an emerging need for the continual refinement of the management structure for EOCs to address the composition and function of the policymaking group within an emergency setting.

SUMMARY OF STORMS 2001
NAME
DATES
WIND-MPH
PRES.-MB
DEATHS
US$ MIL
DAMAGE
ALLISON 5-17 JUN
63
1000
41*
5000+
T.D TWO 11-12 JUL
30
1010
0
0
BARRY 2-7 AUG
70
990
0
30
CHANTAL 14-22 AUG
70
997
0
0
DEAN 22-28 AUG
70
994
0
2
ERIN 1-15 SEP
120
968
0
0
FELIX 6-18 SEP
115
965
0
0
GABRIELLE 11-19 SEP
80
975
0
230
T.D NINE 19-20 SEP
35
1005
0
0
HUMBERTO 21-27 SEP
105
970
0
0
IRIS 4-9 OCT
145
948
31
0
JERRY 6-8 OCT
50
1005
0
0
KAREN 12-15 OCT
80
982
0
0
LORENZO 27-31 OCT
40
1007
0
0
MICHELLE 29 OCT-5 NOV
120
933
17
0.1
NOEL 4-6 NOV
75
986
0
0
OLGA 24 NOV-? 
90
973
?
0
Source: NOAA website.