Hurricane Nana makes landfall, drives across Guatemala
PUNTA GORDA (AP):
Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize, pelting a relatively sparsely populated stretch of the country’s coast with heavy rain and wind, before weakening to a tropical storm while pushing across Guatemala on Thursday.
The US National Hurricane Center reported that Nana hit land between the coastal towns of Dangriga and Placencia shortly after midnight at an area around 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Belize City with maximum sustained winds of 75mph (120kph), making it barely a hurricane. The storm was moving westwards at 15mph (24kph).
Later in the morning, Nana weakened to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds near 45mph (75kph). It was centred about 125 miles (200 kilometres) north of Guatemala City and neared the border with Mexico.
Forecasters said it was expected to weaken to a depression and was unlikely to restrengthen after emerging over the Pacific.
Belize authorities did not immediately report injuries when Nana made landfall shortly after midnight Thursday. More than 4,000 people, primarily in the south of the country, moved to government shelters.
Belize Red Cross Director General Lily Bowman said teams were assessing damages across the country, but so far unconfirmed reports indicated the worst impact was on banana plantations.
“People were in full preparedness mode for this storm and activated their emergency plans; so since it was not a big storm and the damage is contained and minimal in most areas, it can be considered a good simulation,” she said.
Thousands of people stocked up on food, water and construction materials on Wednesday ahead of the landfall. Long lines stretched through supermarkets, and hardware store shelves were nearly bare as residents of Belize bought materials to board up windows and doors.