Iota threatens to batter Central America as powerful category 5 storm

Daniel Fowler
November 16, 2020

Iota is the 30th named storm in the Atlantic this year, a record, and it may end up as the season's strongest.

"Rapid strengthening is expected during the next 24 hours, and Iota is forecast to be an extremely unsafe category 4 hurricane when it approaches Central America", the Miami-based NHC said.

Iota was upgraded to Category 5 - the highest level - as it moved westward over the Caribbean towards the Nicaragua-Honduras border.

This is a catastrophic rainfall forecast and could produce life-threatening flash flooding, mudslides and landslides.

Additionally, a life-threatening storm surge could reach up to 13 feet on the coast line of Nicaragua and Honduras as well.

Eta was the 28th named storm of this year's hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms.

Iota is expected to continue moving west and northwestward over the next few days until it makes landfall sometime late on Monday or early Tuesday morning in Central America.

Nicaragua and Honduras look to take a direct hit again, less than two weeks after Category 4 Hurricane Eta targeted the same area.

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Iota has intensified over the western Caribbean on approach to Nicaragua and Honduras.

Iota threatened to wreak more havoc in a region where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Eta.

By Monday night, Iota is expected to reach Category 4 hurricane strength - with winds at 140 miles per hour - as it approaches the coast of northern Nicaragua and northeastern Honduras.

Several residents of Bilwi expressed concern that their homes would not stand up to Iota, so soon after Eta.

Iota was forecast to drop 8 to 16 inches (200-400 millimeters) of rain in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, with as much as 30 inches (750 millimeters) in isolated spots.

Authorities in Honduras on Friday ordered police and the army to evacuate the area of San Pedro Sula - the country's second city and industrial capital, located 110 miles north of Tegucigalpa. Such activity has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

The storm is taking a similar Hurricane Eta, which ripped through the same area as a category 4 hurricane earlier this month and left more than 100 dead. Authorities said 83,000 people in that region were in danger. Costa Rica and Panama could also experience heavy rain and possible flooding, the hurricane centre said. Remnants of Theta, the 29th, dissipated Sunday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

"Reconnaissance aircraft finds Iota has strengthened into the thirteenth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season", it tweeted.

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