Satellite image
Infrared GOES-16 satellite image of Hurricane Nana at landfall at 2 a.m. EDT September 3, 2020. At the time, Nana was at peak strength - a category 1 storm with 75 mph winds. (Image credit: NOAA/RAMMB)

Hurricane Nana made landfall in southern Belize near 2 a.m. EDT Thursday, September 3, 2020, as a low-end category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds. By 11 a.m. Thursday, Nana had been downgraded to a tropical storm with 45 mph winds over northern Guatemala, and the storm was expected to dissipate over eastern Mexico by Friday.

Nana was a small hurricane with hurricane-force winds extending out just 10 miles from the center at landfall. Nana’s small size — combined with its having missed Belize City, Belize’s most populous city — means limited wind and storm surge damage. Nana’s main impact will be flooding from heavy rainfall, a swath of up to eight inches of rain along its path into eastern Mexico.

With two weeks to go until the typical mid-point of the Atlantic hurricane season, we’ve already had 15 named storms, five hurricanes, and one intense hurricane. The averages for this point in the season are six named storms, two hurricanes, and one intense hurricane. According to Colorado State University hurricane scientist Phil Klotzbach, only six other Atlantic seasons in the satellite era (since 1966) have had five or more hurricanes by September 2: 1966, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005, and 2012.

Belize hurricane history

Hurricanes are not infrequent visitors to Belize, with the nation averaging one hurricane every seven years, according to The most recent hurricane to hit Belize was on August 4, 2016, when category 1 Hurricane Earl hit, causing moderate coastal damage. The most recent named storm to hit Belize was Tropical Storm Franklin, which affected northern portions of Belize with 60 mph winds in August 2017.

Hattie flooding
Swing bridge in Belize City after category 4 Hurricane Hattie in 1961. (Image credit: National Institute of Culture and History, Belize)

According to NOAA’s historical hurricane database, Belize has been hit by three major hurricanes: a 1931 category 4 storm with 130 mph winds, Hurricane Hattie in 1961 (a category 4 storm with 150 mph winds), and Hurricane Iris in 2001. Iris was a category 4 storm with 145 mph winds that brought a storm surge of up to 15 feet to southern Belize, killing at least 20 and causing $66 million in damage (2001 dollars).

As a fraction of gross domestic product, the costliest hurricane to hit Belize was Hurricane Hattie in 1961, which caused over $500 million in damage (2020 dollars), equivalent to 200% of the nation’s GDP. Hattie was also Belize’s deadliest hurricane, with 307 deaths blamed on the storm.

Omar expected to dissipate by Friday

Tropical Storm Omar formed on Tuesday, September 1, and spent a few hours as a minimal-strength tropical storm with 40 mph winds before high wind shear weakened it to a tropical depression on Wednesday. Omar was still clinging to tropical depression status on Thursday afternoon in the waters between Bermuda and Canada, but it is expected to degenerate into a remnant low by Friday. Omar is not a threat to any land areas.

Cape Verde hurricane season kicking into high gear

Hazelton tweet

Early September marks the peak of the hurricane season, when tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa are most likely to develop into hurricanes. The hurricanes that originate in this area are called Cape Verde-type hurricanes, named after the Cape Verde Islands (now called the Cabo Verde Islands) off the coast of Africa. Cape Verde-type hurricanes are among the most dangerous Atlantic hurricanes, as they often take a long track over large expanses of tropical water, giving them plenty of time to organize and strengthen. With ocean temperatures near their seasonal peak and the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) expected to be in a configuration that reduces vertical wind shear over the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean through mid-September, an active peak portion of the Atlantic hurricane season is likely. As tweeted by NOAA Hurricane Research Division scientist Andy Hazelton, there are at least four African tropical waves to watch:

The 8 a.m. EDT Thursday Tropical Weather Outlook from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was highlighting three tropical waves with potential to develop into Cape Verde-type hurricanes. NHC designated the tropical wave near 12.5°N, 35°W 91L. Satellite images showed 91L had an elongated surface circulation and a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity that was being hampered by dry air and high wind shear.

The shear and dry air are predicted to abate by early next week, giving 91L the potential to develop into a tropical depression. NHC gave 91L two-day and five-day odds of development of 20% and 40%, respectively. This system is predicted to meander in the central tropical Atlantic at speeds of less than five mph over the coming five days, and has modest support for development from the top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis.

A large and complex tropical wave just off the coast of Africa on Thursday afternoon was headed west-northwest at about 15 mph. Satellite images showed the wave with a modest amount of poorly organized heavy thunderstorm activity, but the system had a good deal of spin. The system was at the edge of a large area of dry air associated with the Saharan Air Layer, and dry air may interfere with development through the weekend. When the wave reaches the central Atlantic early next week, passing to the north of 91L, it is expected to find a moister atmosphere with low-to-moderate wind shear, increasing odds of development. This wave has strong support for development from the models. NHC gave the wave two-day and five-day odds of formation of 20% and 70%, respectively. An interaction with 91L may occur, making the future tracks of both of these disturbances difficult to predict.

A new tropical wave will emerge from the coast of Africa on Sunday, and it is predicted to head west-northwest at about 15 mph through the Cabo Verde Islands early next week. This wave has strong model support for developing into a tropical depression by the middle of next week. NHC gave it two-day and five-day odds of formation of 0% and 20%, respectively.

The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Paulette. The earliest sixteenth named storm on record for the Atlantic is Philippe from September 17, 2005. Including Paulette, only six more names remain on the 2020 Atlantic list before NHC will have to turn to the Greek alphabet, a last resort that’s been used only in 2005. That unforgettable year produced tropical storms Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and – on December 30 – Zeta.

Maysak satellite image
Figure 1. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of Typhoon Maysak in the late morning on September 2, as a category 3 storm with 120 mph winds. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory).

Typhoons Bavi, Maysak and Haishen: a one-two-three punch for Korea

Tweet on missing ship

One week after Typhoon Bavi brought heavy rains to North and South Korea, making an eventual landfall in North Korea as a category 1 storm, South Korea endured the landfall of category 2 Typhoon Maysak on September 2. But the strongest typhoon yet to affect the Korean Peninsula this season may be in store this weekend, as an intensifying Typhoon Haishen poses the spectre of another direct hit.

Typhoon Maysak made landfall just west of Busan, the nation’s second-largest city and the world’s fifth-largest port. Maysak is being blamed for two deaths, but 42 crew members of a livestock ship are missing (see tweet) after their ship sank in the typhoon. One rescued crew member said an engine stopped and the ship stalled. A powerful wave hit the ship broadside, he said, causing it to capsize and sink. According to a summary at (, Maysak destroyed 17 homes, damaged 850, and left 270,000 customers without power.

Typhoon Haishen a formidable category 3 storm

Climate change is causing more rapid intensification of Atlantic hurricanes

Intensifying over record-warm to nearly record-warm waters a few hundred miles south of Japan, Typhoon Haishen became a major category 3 typhoon with 115 mph winds at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Haishen is expected to intensify into a Category 4 super typhoon with 150 mph winds on Friday, then gradually weaken to category 2 strength before making landfall in South Korea on Sunday.
Haishen will track farther east than Maysak for most of its life, avoiding until this weekend the cold wake left by Maysak.

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Posted on September 3, 2020 (2:25pm EDT).

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

82 replies on “Hurricane Nana downgraded to tropical storm after landfall in Belize”

  1. Thank you for the Belize Hurricane rundown Dr. Masters…I’ve lived in Southern Belize for the past 26 years and have been in a number of canes, but Iris in 2001 took out a good deal of our seaside village of Placencia. With the zinc roof ripped off like a sardine can followed by the trainwreck of a tornado hitting the house, it was a night to remember. I’ve been following you since the early days of Cat 6 blog..Last night’s Nana has been my 6th hurricane weathered. Each one is a learning experience.

      1. Thks for the kind words. We have a tropical wave today and WU just put out a tracking map for 91L to go cane and come here on almost the same landfall as Nana.

  2. aal16_2020090318_track_early.png Days ago I said 200 hrs if HDMI tracking was the choice, Nana remnants just may visit me (and my long passed Nana Dora’s grave down the street from me in the cemetary). A number of those tracks still say the possibility may exist. At the time only 1, The HDMI model track showed it having any chance of following the coast up as high as the southern tip of Baja. Now a few do.

    Really, we just need some rain….from anywhere or anything.

  3. Good evening everyone… certainly a lot to watch over the next 10 days …. I’m watching all of those coloured circles with a great deal of …. ahem …. attention …. lol.

  4. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31 – 9:00 AM JST September 4 2020
    Sea South of Japan

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Haishen (925 hPa) located at 21.8N 135.1E has 10 minute sustained winds of 100 knots with gusts of 140 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 8 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    120 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    90 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Gale Force Winds
    270 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    240 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T6.5-

    Forecast and Intensity
    24 HRS: 23.5N 131.9E – 105 knots (CAT 5/Intense Typhoon) 270 km southeast of Minami Daito island (Okinawa Prefecture)
    48 HRS: 26.9N 130.2E – 110 knots (CAT 5/Intense Typhoon) 160 km northwest Minami-daito island (Okinawa Prefecture)
    72 HRS: 32.6N 128.6E – 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) West of Kyushu region (Kagoshima Prefecture)

  5. Evening everyone….some lower level (850mb) spins going on with a couple of the NHC “colors” on the 5-day outlook….going to be an interesting Sept…..

  6. Sry to ask, I have reviewed back many pages on WU Disqus thread, just too many posts…I missed Nana’s landfalling in Belize (due to real work), the location specifically. Looking for exactly how close the landfall was to the tiny village of Barranco, Belize it was? Anyone remember or have a graphic they can post up please? I also checked prior posts here on YCC, cannot find the info. Was it ever declared a Cat 1 or was it left a TS at landfall? (others debated it on WU thread) . Ty

    1. Here in Placencia Village, I was told it was just outside of Dangriga on the south side. Here we had SW winds at it’s hardest. Barranco is quite a ways south of here near the Guatemalan border. My family who lives in the Dept of Izabal near the Rio Dulce had heavy rains and high winds..I read that Toledo District still has flood watches going -all other districts are in the clear.

      1. Thank you for that information. OK, landfall was in northern Belize, not extreme southern. Glad you escaped the worst of it. The best to all of you.

    1. Yes, very actively! 164,389 comments so far since this forum was activated and Dr. Masters announced the move to YCC. Going crazy there today, I scrolled back scores of pages and posts (looking for Nana landfall info in Belize), were from just 5 hrs ago. as models have people going nuts currently.

  7. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #29 – 3:00 AM JST September 4 2020
    Sea South of Japan

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Haishen (950 hPa) located at 21.2N 135.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts of 120 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 9 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    90 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    60 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Gale Force Winds
    210 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    60 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    24 HRS: 23.1N 132.6E – 100 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) 290 km southeast of Minami Daito island (Okinawa Prefecture)
    48 HRS: 25.7N 130.8E – 110 knots (CAT 5/Intense Typhoon) 40 km west southwest Minami-daito island (Okinawa Prefecture)
    72 HRS: 31.0N 129.0E – 100 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) West of Kyushu region (Kagoshima Prefecture)

  8. Money being money, of course, is important, but human lives Should Be MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. Why do people make stupid decisions to sail into extremely dangerous storms, risking the vessels, the cargo, and most importantly the human lives of the crew members, instead of just saying forget the damned schedule, fuel costs, crew payroll costs…and just laying up until the danger passes, or taking a much safer route around the storms.

    Whoever made the decisions that even allowed that Ships Captain, to enter that typhoon, with that top heavy ship, should have manslaughter charges pressed upon them for those human deaths IMHO. They are responsible. Yet, they will probably be rewarded instead, with a very hefty insurance settlment check…The show must go on, the schedule must be adhered to, screw the low wage paid slaves, they are simply the engine that drives capitalism, and easily replaceable.

    1. My guess is that it was the ship’s Captain that made that decision to go into that storm. In fact, i know it was ultimately.

      Even if he was ordered to by higher headquarters ~ which is very, very unlikely; those people aren’t in that business to collect insurance payments on losses ~ he would have had to option to refuse that order.

      So the person responsible for that incident is dead. Had his engine not failed and he went adrift and got hit broadside by a rouge wave, things might very well have turned out differently, eh?

      1. I know it was the Captain’s responsibility ultimately, but they receive a lot of “stay on schedule” pressure from above for money reasons, have watched enough vids to know, both are true facts…the successful into the storm traverses are always left with, we arrived on time and everyone is safe, the unsuccessful runs are investigated. The tragic loss of lives is too many in the end. 42 lost souls for a few bucks more. The cargo alone was worth millions, as was the ship…the 42 were priceless. That was just 1 of many ships that took chances cruising into that specific storm, too many.

      2. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC runs a program series “Into the Storm” giving ships captains cameras, asking them to document such voyages, too many episodes show the extremely risky behaviors and near tragic, or tragic results and the resulting rescues and rescue attempts. Lower deck engine locations are ripe for intererence, trouble, failure due to big wave actions, and taking on water.

        High wind and wave actions affect superships that tower high above the waterline…maint. and equipt. fails often enough in calm seas and fair winds. Like flying, take chances, and usually, it is a long way down. Rescue attempts adds to the loss or risk of life equation, captains making fateful decisions are not just risking their own lives, and those of their own crews due to the laws of the sea concerning when an SOS is called out.

        “Turnaround, don’t drowned” is the law of the land many places now…The Captain is (responsible ultimately), or at fault, is the law of the High Seas. Both contain stupid drivers, making fateful decisions, not always with the safety of all on board on their minds totally IMHO.

        Big storms contain big unknowns.

      3. Right. But the fact of the matter is that that Captain made the decision to proceed. i know nothing about him or his level of experience, but my guess is that he wouldn’t have been the Captain if somebody didn’t think he was qualified and sensible enough to be one, and perfectly capable of making those sorts of decisions.

        And ships take chances going into storms all the time all over the Planet. How many incidents like this happen in the course of a year? When’s the last time You heard of any cargo or container ship losing power and being capsized by a rouge wave in a storm?

        It’s like airplane crashes. We seldom get the numbers on how many passenger-miles are flown on a day-to-day basis without incident because it is perfectly normal for there not to be plane crashes.

      4. I still feel the same way about the ship in Joaquin. The captain had avoided the track of an earlier storm that fizzled, but was under pressure to make the fastest possible trip. Unfortunately this put him in the path of an unexpected cat 4 at a time when his ship was having steering problems.

    1. No disrespect meant, You my friend should try out for an NFL Team this year, because in my opinion, you are absolutely the very best Monday morning quarterback I have seen ever play the game brother. METEOROLOGISTS FORECAST, guesses that are scientifically based, foretelling what should be watched for and warned.

      A lot like Dr’s. “Practice Medicine”, they have no crystal balls, magic potions, or fortune telling machines (they do not know what the future actually holds, only what it appears to hold)…wasting names (seriously?), waste away NHC, if it saves even 1 life, waste 8 alphabets a hurricaine season if the science is there at the point of decision making, to name a weather data point observed.

    2. everything that has gale force winds like they should. It’s too bad they did not acknowledge that TD 10L had gale force winds to be named Josephine.

  9. Sometimes, with super active Atlantic hurricane seasons, there is an inherent “Cancelling Out” effect. You get so many seedlings ejecting off of Africa that they literally “Mess” with one another. Usually, one or 2 will dominate and turn into long tracked monsters which seems a fair bet this year. Plus, to date, the systems have been travelling at a low latitude which causes inhibition by the inevitable interactions with land masses. The Atlantic isn’t known as the most variable activity basin from year to year for no good reason or reasons. So much has to be “Just Right.” Some of the worst, most memorable storms have occurred during inactive or “Normal” seasons.

  10. Very sad to hear about the livestock! heard about this and was shocked, thanks for updates keep safe for the long weekend up in Tdot!

    1. At least one crew member was found alive so at least they have a survivor that told the story, so now we know pretty much what happened. If there were no survivors, no bodies recovered, it would be very difficult to know what happened. We are thankful of the survivor. He will be vital in piecing together as to what happened, and to why the ship got in the path of the storm in the first place. As for the livestock, I would presume them to be dead.

      1. I just read on NPR the sole survivor is a chief officer who states the ship lost an engine then capsized after taking a wave broad side….that was kinda my guess as in these older ships it is not uncommon to lose and engine in rough seas due to stirring up dirt and water in the fuel tanks. I had it happen to me on my sport fishing boat…it all worked out ok but it was a scary and excellent lesson to do basic maintenance and clean the fuel tanks at least once a year..

      2. The captain was an idiot! He murdered that crew! Sailing that top heavy ship directly into a typhoon!

        Sorry to hear about the death of the cattle more than the death of the captain.

      3. I agree tragic and the captain’s fault but no cattle do not come above human life esp the crew and many souls who perished …yes tragic as to cattle as well.

      4. Normally, I would agree about the value of human life verses the life of cattle. But for a captain to order his top heavy ship to recklessly go directly into a typhoon killing over 40 people is tantamount to murder.

        Not familiar with cattle ships but I was on a freighter on the fringes of a typhoon in 1969 when the captain decided to run the gauntlet between an approaching typhoon from the east and the coast of communist China,

        We left Da Nang before we were secured for sea dangerously dropping the booms on a swaying deck as soon as we left the bay and ended up in a very dangerous situation holding the bow into huge seas at half power just to stay afloat for almost 12 hours, The captain won the gamble with our lives but needless to say the crew was furious at him when we docked in Japan.

  11. Thank You Dr. Masters; appreciate the comments with regard to the MJO and the interpretation noted by Dr. Klotzbach in his attached CSU outlook. My read has traditionally been, pursuant to Your posts over the years on WU, that a MJO pulse, moving “directly” through the Atlantic Basin itself, is the most favorable for potential Atlantic storms. As a result, I have been noting, on the WU comments, for a few weeks now that the GFS ensembles have the current pulse squarely over the Indian Basin. Your comments here confirm my correct reading of the chart I post almost every day (below) which is why I am expecting a potentially active later-September/October when the MJO is actually in the Atlantic Basin.

    As Dr. Klotzbach is noting, he is not referring to a “direct” MJO pulse in the Atlantic this coming short-term period, but, noting that Pacific Basin suppression, due to the Indian Basin position of the MJO, favors rising motion in the Atlantic (teleconnection issue). But if I get the general concept correctly, I believe that a pulse in the Basin, during the peak-period, would be the most favorable rising conditions.

  12. Thank you Dr. Masters for the update on Nana and Omar and the tropical wave train that covers Africa and the eastern tropical Atlantic. My vote is that the wave designated as Invest 91L will probably get absorbed by the much larger wave to the east, and then the eastern wave would go on to develop once it consolidates after absorbing 91L. I also think the wave over western Africa (over Mali) has a decent chance given such strong computer model support for it.

    My latest birdseye view chart and discussion highlighting Nana, Omar, and the three waves in the NHC tropical weather outlook are at this link.

  13. “Hattie was also Belize’s deadliest hurricane, with 307 deaths blamed on the storm.”

    The 1931 Belize hurricane killed up to 2500.

      1. We became the independent country of Belize in 1981, Now we have economic colonialism as “investors” are taking over the tourist industry.

    1. Interestingly, 1931 was an overall inactive Atlantic cyclone season; proving, once again, that some of the “Dead” or average seasons have a tendency to spit out the big one.

    2. Those numbers may not sound like much to folks , but even in present times our full time population in Belize is only about 350-370,000. In those times , it was a lot less. I had the pleasure of spending 5 days waiting out the infamous Mitch in 1998 with 2 local Creole families. Some of the elders had been in Hattie in Belize City and the eldest of the elders had been in the 1931 cane. Their stories were vivid. The one who had rode out the 1931 storm brought a hard hat with him and a long length of floating line, “to catch people as they floated by”….The ladies couldn’t figure out why I connected some tiny 12volt lights to two car batteries, “should, in case”. I didn’t want to worry them, so told them it was so they could see to put on their makeup in case the lights went out. Mitch never hit us directly, but you could see it hovering out by the Bay Islands of Honduras .(about 100 miles away)from our main dock. It killed almost 10,000 people in Honduras.

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