Caribbean and Central America – Floods in Dominican Republic, Hurricane Earl Hits Belize

A severe rain storm hit Dominican Republic on 31 July 2016, causing flooding and landslides. Local media report that at least 7 people have died. The storm has also affected parts of Haiti.

Meanwhile Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize on Wednesday 03 August 2016, after affecting the northern coast of Honduras. August is usually one of the peak months of the hurricane season in the Caribbean region.

Heavy Rain in Hispaniola Island Causes Flooding in Dominican Republic

A severe tropical storm affected Dominican Republic on Sunday 31 July 2016 and Monday 01 August, causing floods in several locations, and damage to houses and roads.

As a result of the bad weather conditions, a small boat sank in Samaná Bay, in the northeast of the country, causing the death of 7 people.

According to Dominican Republic National Meteorological Office (Oficina Nacional de Meteorológia, ONAMET) a significant amount of rain was observed from the 31 July 2016 onwards. The Airport La Romana station, in the south-east Province of La Romana, recorded 105 mm in 24 hours on Monday 01 August 2016. A warning bulletin for the critical weather conditions was issued in advance by ONAMET and Civil Defence authorities.

The severe storm caused several inundations, landslides and the fall of trees across the country. Urban flooding was reported in Nagua and Río San Juan in María Trinidad Sánchez Province, in the north of the country, and also in Sánchez Ramírez province.

A landslide in Villa Verde, Santiago caused the interruption in communication routes to local communities. In the capital, Santo Domingo, the rain flooded several roads in east of the city, causing substantial damage to houses and properties. According to local news, road inundation in these areas is a recurrent problem due to the poor urban drainage system.

Losing strength, the tropical storm moved towards Haiti, a country extremely vulnerable to floods.

Several neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are still suffering the effects of a previous intense event occurred on the 13 July 2016. Due to the intense rain, river and canals in Cité Soleil community overflowed, filling with water, garbage and human waste in one of the poorest areas in the country. According to local news, the situation has not yet improved, and as many as 6,000 families are living in precarious conditions in inundated areas prone to contamination.

Haiti and Dominican Republic suffered several major flood events between February and May this year. Dozens of people have died and thousands forced from their homes after a series of storms brought torrential rain across the island of Hispaniola.

On 08 May, 2016, powerful storms were measured dropping rain at a rate of almost 300 mm (11.8 inches) per hour, in large areas of the eastern Dominican Republic, according to data from Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM).

GPM’s satellite measured rainfall of 300 mm/hr over parts of Dominican Republic on 08 May 2016. Credits: NASA/JAXA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
GPM’s satellite measured rainfall of 300 mm/hr over parts of Dominican Republic on 08 May 2016. Credits: NASA/JAXA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

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Hurricane Earl in Belize and Honduras

From Wednesday 03 August 2016 the Caribbean tropical storm Earl strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane (in a scale from 1 to 5), with wind up to 130 km per hour.

As forecast by the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the USA, the hurricane made landfall in Belize late on Wednesday 03 August, near Belize City, a city of some 60,000 inhabitants.

Along the way to Belize, Hurricane Earl dumped rain on the northern areas of the neighbouring country Honduras. Tela station, in Atlántida Department, recorded 123.5 mm of rain in 24 hours on Wednesday 03 August. La Ceiba airport station recorded 92.5 mm during the same period.

Satellite image of Hurricane Earl showing water vapour, August 2016. Image: NOAA Hurricane Center
Satellite image of Hurricane Earl showing water vapour, August 2016. Image: NOAA Hurricane Center

Belize’s National Emergency Management Organization issued several warning and updates on the approaching hurricane, taking actions to prevent major damages caused by wind gusts or flash floods. Airport were closed and 29 shelters were opened by Civil Defence authorities.

The hurricane is predicted to move to Mexico, losing strength and intensity along its route.

Projected track of Hurricane Early, August 2016. Image; NOAA Hurricane Center
Projected track of Hurricane Early, August 2016. Image; NOAA Hurricane Center

Flood Summary

Last updated: August 5, 2016
Event
Dominican Republic, July to August 2016
Date
July 31 to August 3, 2016
Type
Inland flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

A - Nagua
B - Río San Juan
C - Villa Verde, Santiago
D - Sánchez Ramírez

Magnitude

Rainfall level
105 mm in 24 hours
La Romana - July 31 to August 1, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
7 people
Samaná Bay - July 31 to August 1, 2016
7 people died as a result of the storm after a boat sank in Samaná Bay.

Flood Summary

Last updated: August 10, 2016
Event
Hurricane Earl, August 2016
Date
August 4 to August 7, 2016
Type
Flash flood, Landslide, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize on 04 August 2016, near Belize City. After hitting Belize, Earl moved towards West-Northwest, causing major damages in Mexico southern-eastern and central states and in Petén and Quiché departments in Guatemala.

Locations

A - Huauchinango, Puebla (Mexico)
B - Tlaola, Puebla (Mexico)
C - Coscomatepec de Bravo, Veracruz (Mexico)
D - Tequila, Veracruz (Mexico)
E - Ixcán, Quiché (Guatemala)
F - Melchor de Mencos, Petén (Guatemala)
G - Belize City (Belize)

Magnitude

Rainfall level
193.8 mm in 24 hours
Yamonho, Chiapas, Mexico - August 4 to August 5, 2016
Rainfall level
198.2 mm in 24 hours
Martinez de la Torre, Veracruz, Mexico - August 5 to August 6, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
29 people
Puebla State, Mexico - August 5 to August 6, 2016
Fatalities
11 people
Veracruz State, Mexico - August 5 to August 6, 2016
Evacuated
170 people
Belize - August 4 to August 10, 2016
According to report by NEMO in Belize 08 August.
Evacuated
700 people
Guatemala - August 4 to August 9, 2016
700 people have evacuated their homes, with 413 of them accommodated in temporary shelters (228 in Petén and 185 in Quiché).