WEATHER NEWS: Lisa slams Belize as Martin becomes farthest-north November hurricane


The tropical Atlantic remains unusually busy for November, with forecasters monitoring multiple systems at a time when activity is usually tamping down.

After battering Belize as a hurricane Wednesday, where it caused flooding and wind damage, Tropical Depression Lisa is raining itself out over southeast Mexico.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Martin, fueled by unusually warm ocean waters, is sweeping across the North Atlantic as the farthest-north hurricane on record during November.

When Lisa and Martin coexisted as hurricanes on Wednesday, it marked only the third instance on record of multiple Atlantic hurricanes during the month. Statistically, a November hurricane should form in the Atlantic just once every two or three years.

Meanwhile, two additional Atlantic disturbances are being tracked by the National Hurricane Center because of their potential to develop over the coming days.

Lisa made landfall in Belize late Wednesday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane with 85 mph sustained winds. It struck 10 miles southwest of Belize City, which was flooded by the hurricane’s ocean surge and largely left in the dark by its powerful winds.

Although a relatively small storm, with hurricane-force winds extending just 15 miles from its center, Lisa was strengthening as it came ashore.

The ocean surge, pushing waters up to 4 to 7 feet above normally dry land — engulfed many parts of Belize City, home to 57,000 people, where eyewitnesses described widespread flooding.

“Much of Belize City is underwater. My hotel is completely swamped,” storm chaser Josh Morgerman wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Light to moderate damage to houses and infrastructure was also reported.

Farther inland, the storm unloaded 4 to 8 inches of rain. Downpours continued Thursday in some areas, and totals could reach 10 inches.

Excessive rainfall — and areas of flooding — not only affected Belize, but also neighboring Guatemala and parts of Mexico.

Lisa was downgraded to a tropical depression Thursday morning as it decayed over southwest Mexico. A remnant low-level swirl of the storm center may emerge into the Bay of Campeche in the southern Gulf of Mexico in a few days, but it is not forecast to gain significant strength.

About 3,500 miles to the northeast of Lisa spins Martin in the North Atlantic. The mammoth storm has tropical-storm-force winds that extend 520 miles from the center.

The storm is racing northeast at 48 mph Thursday afternoon with sustained winds of 85 mph. Sitting at 45.6 degrees north latitude, Martin is the farthest-north hurricane on record this late in the year.

“No Atlantic hurricanes have been recorded in November as far north as Martin,” meteorologist Michael Lowry wrote Thursday morning in his Substack newsletter. He attributed Martin’s high-latitude strength to “historically warm sea surface temperatures in this part of the world.”

Human-caused climate change is warming ocean waters around the world, and research has already shown storms are gaining strength farther north than they used to.

Martin is expected to lose its tropical characteristic but retain its hurricane-force winds as it moves over colder waters over the next two days. Its remnants may eventually threaten Ireland and the United Kingdom by late in the weekend as a weaker but still windy tempest.

With Lisa and Martin preparing to wind down, the seasonal count of named storms in the North Atlantic stands at 13, including seven hurricanes and two major hurricanes. This is close to normal.

Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) — which is a measure of total Atlantic tropical activity based on the strength and duration of all storms — is somewhat below normal, or about 78 percent of average.

Additional storm potential

Hurricane season isn’t over until Nov. 30, however, and the Hurricane Center is watching two more areas for potential development.

An area of disturbed weather east of Bermuda is forecast to drift west over the coming days and has a 10 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm.

This disturbance is expected to eventually merge with another area of storminess east of the Bahamas, which is given a 30 percent chance to develop over the next five days. It may move over the Bahamas and ultimately the Southeast United States. Early next week, it has the potential to produce coastal flooding, erosion and periods of rain from Florida to the Carolinas.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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