Lisa weakens to a tropical storm after lashing Belize

TROPICAL Storm Lisa slowed today after making landfall in Belize, causing flooding and plunging parts of the country into darkness as it churned westwards.   

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has downgraded Lisa from a hurricane to a tropical storm, noting that as of 0600 GMT the eye hovered about 135 km outside of Belize City and was moving towards Guatemala and southeastern Mexico at 19 km/h.  

For the next day or so, the storm system is expected to pack a gusty punch and deliver heavy rain, swells and flash flooding to Central America’s northern coast and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, further weakening as it moves inland.   

Lisa slammed into the Sibun River just southwest of economic hub and former capital Belize City around 21:20 GMT yesterday, uprooting trees, downing power lines and inundating streets.  

“It’s very dangerous for us” because in Belize “it floods quickly, even with moderate rain,” Jasmin Ayuso, a 21-year-old secretary, told AFP.  

A state of emergency was declared in two areas, while a countrywide curfew was in effect until dawn today. 

Some parts of the country were left without power as the storm lashed the tourist-popular coast with maximum sustained winds of around 50 mph. 

“BEL is aware of power outages affecting several areas of the country,” the utility wrote on Facebook yesterday night. “We assure the public that our teams are taking note of the reports of damages to the power system, including fallen power lines and poles.”  

Schools and most businesses were closed and the government set up several shelters.   

In Belize City and neighboring areas, local media showed buildings had been damaged and flooded, while trees were uprooted.   

The NHC said Lisa was barreling towards northern Guatemala and southeastern Mexico with a “decrease in forward speed” expected as it moved over the Bay of Campeche.  

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. – AFP, November 3, 2022.   

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