Well, here it is, the first tropical system of the 2012 hurricane season to threaten Belize.  Seems that Tropical Storm Ernesto, likely soon to be Hurricane Ernesto, has his sights set on either northern Belize, where we live, or southern Mexico.  The track seems to change every few hours, sometimes looking better for us, sometimes worse.  The more north he goes, the better, as the strongest winds and heaviest rains will be north of the eye.  So, with apologies to our neighbor Mexico, we are hoping he heads up that way and not to Belize City south of where we live on the island of Ambergris Caye!

Since our condo is right on the ocean, and on the first floor to boot (about 7' above sea level), we obviously have to take storms like this seriously.  However, Belize's offshore reef means that the wave action here is virtually nil, and storm surge extremely tempered.  I wouldn't feel comfortable owning a first-floor, ocean-front condo on the Atlantic Ocean, but it's definitely a bit different here in Belize because of the reef.  
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Our building, right on the Caribbean Sea
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Waves break over the barrier reef, not on the shoreline
We are also fortunate because our building ("Chico Caribe") is built for hurricanes.  It's new and all-concrete, and we have hurricane-strength sliding doors facing the ocean.  Even luckier, the five owners in the building all pitched in and bought a high-capacity generator for the building during construction.  It comes on automatically during all power outages and runs all our appliances.  So, if there is a power outage, we lose only cable TV and internet, and everything else keeps right on cranking along as if nothing happened.  It's kind of eerie looking out our windows and seeing the rest of Grand Caribe dark, aside from a few emergency lights, while our building is still lit up brightly.  The generator wasn't cheap, but every time the power goes out, we feel very lucky indeed.

We also don't have to worry too much about our water supply as Grand Caribe's water plant, which our building shares with them, is on a back-up generator, so at least as long as the generator has fuel, we'll have water for drinking and flushing.

So, our hurricane prep is not nearly as involved as others on the island without a generator, who might lose power and water for an extended period of time in a significant storm and thus need to stock up on water, flashlights, batteries, and food that doesn't require any cooking.  

We have been talking to some of the workers here at the resort, and tomorrow morning they plan to take all the pool furniture to a safe place.  We'll be doing the same with our veranda table and chairs, and we'll take the screens off our windows as they are lightweight and might be subject to blowing around.  That's about all the preparations we really plan to do so long as this storm remains a Category 1 hurricane or lower.  Yes, we are getting off pretty easy.
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This furniture from our pool, and a lot more from Grand Caribe's three pools, will be secured inside tomorrow
Although we did have a brief shower earlier, right now it's gorgeous out and very calm -- the proverbial calm before the storm.  Hard to imagine a huge tropical storm is lurking out there.
Since we may be without internet access for awhile, I can't promise when I'll be able to do an "after" post on the storm, but I'll try to update the blog just as soon as possible after the storm hits and we're back online.  Current projections have it hitting land at 2 am on Wednesday morning.  Stay tuned!
Marielle
8/6/2012 08:10:21 am

I have been reading your blog for months in anticipation of our trip to ambergris caye... Now we are here and awaiting Ernesto too! There's a big family of Tar Heels here!

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BeBelize Emily
8/6/2012 09:26:08 am

Welcome to Ambergris Caye! Probably not the exact vacation you hoped for, but at least it will be memorable, no? Hopefully we'll all weather the storm with no problems and you'll be back to enjoying the beautiful weather in no time. Go Heels! :)

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Marielle
8/6/2012 09:33:41 am

We have had lots of fun in 2.5 days with diving, snorkeling beach and lots of walking around and trying delicious food!

Carbunkle Trumpet
8/6/2012 08:12:26 am

Thinking good ju-ju for yall and my other friends and family on the island and mainland.

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BeBelize Emily
8/6/2012 09:26:30 am

Thanks, CT!

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Debbie Fischer
8/7/2012 12:22:50 am

Thanks for the update on Ernesto, Emily. Hopefully it will make a last minute turn and be nothing more than a practice drill for everyone. We hope everyone stays safe and dry!

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BeBelize Emily
8/7/2012 02:07:35 am

Thanks Debbie! I know we will have plenty of rain, but hopefully nothing more severe that that. We've brought in our porch furniture and screens from our windows this morning, and are just waiting out the storm now.

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Carmen
8/7/2012 01:53:39 am

Sounds like you are well prepared and set up to weather this and other storms. This is our first hurricane experience....the days of anticipation have been a bit anxiety producing wondering to board up or not, to leave our wooden stilt house for a safer place on CC. We're just following the leads of locals and wise advice from local friends. Decided to board windows, though. Better prepared than not. A good test run for what might be in the months ahead....

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BeBelize Emily
8/7/2012 02:08:55 am

Fortunately, even a Cat 1 hurricane is not supposed to blow buildings over (even wooden ones!) and chances are, you won't get anything more than tropical storm force winds there on Caye Caulker. But wise to be prepared, and as you say, you may have to do this again, so it's very good practice. Stay safe, Carmen!

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8/7/2012 01:56:08 am

Emily,

As life-long residents of the Louisiana coast, I empathize. The constant changing of the storm's path can be nerve-wracking! Glad to hear that the barrier reef is a good protectant, and that generator ... awesome! That can make life after a hurricane so much better!

Your condo sounds like it's very well-built, not to mention beautiful! That view is amazing! It's definitely worth the hassle of a hurricane. Hope this is the only one you deal with for a very long time! Best wishes! Cheryl

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BeBelize Emily
8/7/2012 02:11:28 am

Thanks Cheryl! We're no strangers to tropical storms or hurricanes either, being from North Carolina and having a boat on the coast in the past. But it's never fun to see one heading your way, that's for sure. We do feel extremely fortunate to have the generator, reef, and a strong building!

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