The northern part of Central America was on high alert Wednesday for the passage of Hurricane Lisa, with warnings of devastating winds, downpours and flash floods also affecting Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for Honduras’ Bay Islands, the coast of Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan area stretching from Chetumal to Puerto Costa Maya.
Lisa was moving westward in the Caribbean Sea at a speed of 24 kilometers (15 miles) per hour with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h (75 mph) and even higher gusts, said the NHC.
“Additional strengthening is forecast as Lisa approaches Belize. Weakening is expected after the center makes landfall,” it added.
Heavy rains could create flash flooding conditions across Belize into northern Guatemala, the far southeast of Yucatan, the east of Chiapas state in Mexico as well as the state of Tabasco, according to the advisory.
“A storm surge will likely raise water levels by as much as 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 meters) above normal tide levels near and to the north of where the center of Lisa crosses the coast of Belize and extreme southeastern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula,” said the center.
It also warned the surge would be accompanied by “large and damaging waves” and swells as far away as Jamaica and the Cayman Islands possibly causing “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Honduras’s Center for Atmospheric, Oceanographic and Seismic Studies (CENAOS) issued a red alert for the Bay Islands.
Ronnie Mcnab, mayor of the largest of the islands and a major tourist draw, Roatan, declared a state of emergency that allowed for classes to be suspended and schools to be turned into shelters.
He urged people to stock up on food and guests not to leave their hotels for 36 hours.
In Belize, the government declared a red alert for coastal areas and closed schools, while in Guatemala and El Salvador — expecting lesser impacts — the authorities were on alert.
In Belize, many residents were fearful of losing everything they own.
“Many people have houses that are not safe,” resident Jazmin Ayusola told AFP ahead of the storm.
Lisa arrives not even three weeks after the passage of Julia, another Category 1 hurricane, which caused dozens of deaths in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
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