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Tropical Storm Lisa will continue to weaken as it moves over Central America on Thursday, a day after it made landfall in Belize as a hurricane, forecasters said.
Lisa weakened after making landfall on Wednesday afternoon in the nation of about 400,000 people, forcing many residents to take shelter from powerful winds and the threat of flooding. Lampposts fell, some houses lost their roofs and others collapsed. Some residents of Belize City called a local television show to ask for emergency assistance.
Prime Minister John Briceño told The New York Times in a telephone interview that the government was more concerned about flooding than wind damage.
“The problem that we have in Belize City is that Belize City is about a foot above sea level, and we expect the water surge or the sea to surge between two to five feet, so large areas of Belize City will be underwater,” said Mr. Briceño, speaking from his home in Orange Walk Town.
By Thursday morning, the governments of Belize and Mexico had discontinued their tropical storm warnings, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. However, forecasters warned that parts of Central America should continue to monitor the storm as it moves west and that it was expected to further weaken into a tropical depression by the end of the day.
Lisa was also expected to produce up to six inches of rain across Belize, northern Guatemala and some states in southern Mexico, with some areas seeing as much as 10 inches, the center said. Two to four inches were forecast for other parts of the region, including part of the Yucatán Peninsula. The rainfall could produce flash-flooding conditions.
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A separate storm, Hurricane Martin, was moving northeast across the Atlantic early Thursday but posed no threat to land.
On Wednesday, heavy rain and wind were visible in livestream footage of the coast of Honduras that was posted by Los del Puerto, a news site in Puerto Cortés, Honduras. In Guatemala, Conred, the national emergency management agency, said that 19 homes had been damaged by flooding late Wednesday morning in Melchor de Mencos, a municipality on the border with Belize.
Twelve shelters in Belize City were housing 1,221 people as of noon local time on Wednesday. Most of the shelters were occupied and being serviced by public officers, Mayor Bernard Wagner of Belize City said.
“I am encouraged by the majority of the residents of Belize City taking heed of the call by the authorities to seek shelter in the event that their homes are not able to withstand hurricane-force winds in excess of 75 miles per hour,” he said.
Lisa formed on Monday, becoming the 12th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The season, which runs from June through November, had a relatively quiet start, with only three named storms before Sept. 1 and none during August, the first time that has happened since 1997. Storm activity picked up in early September with Danielle and Earl, which formed within a day of each other.
By the end of September, Hurricane Ian had slammed into the coast of Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in the past decade.
Last year, there were 21 named storms, after a record-breaking 30 in 2020. For the past two years, meteorologists have exhausted the list of names used to identify storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, an occurrence that has happened only one other time, in 2005.
The links between hurricanes and climate change have become clearer with each passing year. Data shows that hurricanes have become stronger worldwide during the past four decades. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.
Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere. Also, rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.
Reporting was contributed by Christine Hauser, Mike Ives, McKenna Oxenden, April Rubin, Chris Stanford, Víctor Manuel Ramos and Derrick Bryson Taylor. Joan Suazo contributed reporting from Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Hipolito Novelo from Belize City, Belize; and Johnny Diaz from Miami.