Monday, June 17, 2024

Analysis of Hot Conditions in Belize for 2023


The Heat Season, the time of the year during which most heatwaves occur in Belize, typically runs from April to October each year. The National Meteorological Service of Belize analyzed the intense heat experienced thus far in 2023.
This year’s season started in April, with up to 15 heatwave days identified. Meanwhile, in May, several individual daily heat records were broken. On May 17, 24, 26, 30 and 31, Libertad Village in the Corozal District recorded daytime high temperatures of 97.7°F (36.5°C), 101.7°F(38.7°C), 98.6°F (37.0°C), 98.8°F (37.1°C), and 100°F (37.8°C), respectively, breaking previous records in 2003, 2005, and 2011.
The Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA) and Punta Gorda stations broke their daily record of 93.4°F (34.1°C) and 94.5°F (34.7°C), respectively, on May 28. Central Farm, Belmopan, and Punta Gorda recorded 101.3°F (38.5°C), 99.9°F (37.7°C), and 97°F (36.1°C) on May 30, while PGIA, Melinda and Punta Gorda recorded 94.5°F (34.7°C), 95.9°F (35.5°C), and 96.3°F (35.7°C), respectively, on May 31. Although these daily records were broken in May, the historical May maximum extreme temperature values were not broken.
A hot day is defined as a day when the daytime high temperature reaches or exceeds the 90th percentile or falls within the top 10% of the historical record. May 2023 was the second warmest May on record for Libertad and Belmopan based on the number of hot days experienced. The PGIA observed the fifth warmest May on record, with 21 hot days. The record that occurred in May 1995 is 27 hot days. Central Farm ranked sixth with 26 hot days, the record being 31 hot days in 1995. Tower Hill ranked seventh with 20 hot days.
Heatwaves can be defined as “a period of at least two consecutive heatwave/hot days.” That is when the daytime high temperature on each of these days is within the top 10% of the historical record.
While the number of heatwave days varies across the country, a considerable number of days were recorded in May continuing into June, especially in the northern and central parts of the country. Seven of the eight locations analyzed in May had hot days above normal, except for Savannah. The weather stations where heat data were analyzed showed between 11 and 26 heatwave days occurred in May 2023. These heat wave days were associated with individual wave events. Libertad had the most heat wave events, with a total of four, with one event lasting ten days, from May 17 to 27. Tower Hill thus far has recorded the longest heatwave event lasting 26 days from May 16 to June 10, while Belmopan recorded the second longest with 21 days from May 16 to 5 June. Except for a temporary break on June 6, the heat days have continued, and we are currently in the second heat wave event for June.
Data Analyzed for June thus far shows that the first heatwave event lasted for five consecutive days with maximum temperatures exceeding their 90th percentile. Most stations observed six extreme heat days with a maximum of five consecutive days with maximum temperatures exceeding their 95th percentile.
The latest forecast indicates that maximum daytime temperatures are expected to decrease slightly during the coming days as conditions become a bit cloudier. By this weekend, an active weather system is expected to produce some rain over the area that will last into early next week. However, as we continue to expect El Niño conditions during the next few months, we anticipate that overall conditions will remain warmer and drier than normal.
The National Meteorological Service of Belize advises residents to take all necessary precautions to minimize heat stress, including drinking an adequate amount of water and fresh juices and avoiding strenuous outdoor activities during the afternoon hours.

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