Story at a glance
- Iota is forecast to bring life-threatening storm surge of 15 to 20 feet along with rain of 10 to 20 inches in northern Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.
- The storm is forecast to hit near where Eta made its catastrophic landfall on Nov. 3.
- Iota is the 30th named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which has seen the most number of named storms on record.
Hurricane Iota on Monday rapidly strengthened into the season’s first Category 5 storm and is barrelling westward toward areas of Central America still reeling from the devastation caused by the powerful Hurricane Eta just two weeks ago.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Iota reached Category 5 strength Monday morning when its winds peaked at 160 miles per hour. Just hours before that, the storm strengthened from a Category 2 storm to a Category 4 within an hour’s time, according to AccuWeather.
The powerful storm is expected to maintain its intensity as it makes landfall over Nicaragua on Monday evening as a Category 5 storm then weaken as it crosses Central America heading west Tuesday and Wednesday. Hurricane watches and warnings are in effect for much of the coast.
Iota is forecast to bring life-threatening storm surge of up 20 feet along with rain of 10 to 20 inches in northern Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, with isolated maximum totals of 30 inches possible, according to the NHC.
“Extreme winds and a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the coast of northeastern Nicaragua. Life-threatening flash flooding is also expected in Central America,” the NHC said.
The storm is forecast to hit near where Eta made its catastrophic landfall on Nov. 3. The storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Central America and dumped feet of rain over Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. More than 120 people died due to severe flooding and landslides.
Iota is the 30th named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which has seen the most number of named storms on record. The hurricane is also the ninth storm to rapidly intensify this season, a phenomenon that appears to be happening increasingly more often, according to The Associated Press.
Researchers say global warming appears to be changing storms, as warm Atlantic surface temperatures have increased storm activity this season.
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