The storm that never came

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

Hurricane Franklin – the weather system that was projected to cross somewhere in northern Belize as a tropical storm on Monday evening avoided Belize altogether, with little more than a drizzle and no wind gusts at all.

Earlier on Monday, the outer feeder bands associated with Franklin dumped heavy showers over some parts of the country, leaving drains and some streets in Belize City overflowing within minutes.

Out in the cayes earlier in the day the skies were overcast, while the southern part of the country experienced little if any rain.
Franklin approached the western Caribbean on Friday as a strong tropical wave and hugged the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras, where it developed over Saturday night into a depression. By Saturday morning it was already a tropical depression and kept on a west north-westerly track.

The storm kept the same trajectory for over a day, threatening the northern portion of Belize and the Yucatan peninsula, moving at roughly 13 miles per hour (mph). Its track prompted the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) to spring into action, holding meetings for a plan in the event Franklin struck. NEMO issued several advisories of do’s and don’ts to the public and opened shelters in some areas in the north, including Corozal town.

Franklin surprised weather experts when about an hour before it was expected to make landfall over northern Belize, it shifted northwards, drifting away from Belize. It gained strength and became a weak Category 1 hurricane, packing winds of up to 60 mph.

Franklin made landfall on Mexico’s central Gulf coast early Tuesday, pounding a mountainous region prone to flash floods and mudslides. The storm reached the coastline about 80 miles southeast of Tuxpan, Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. Campeche received 6.26 inches of rain in a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday night.
Clean-up operations have begun in areas where the storm ripped through and left fallen trees and other debris in its wake.

The hurricane lost momentum but crossed into the Gulf of Mexico, where it regained strength before its second landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near the town of Lechuguillas, Veracruz early Thursday. Franklin has since dissipated, but torrential rains that have persisted will likely cause life-threatening flooding and mudslides well after the storm has passed.

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