Hurricane Iota roars onto Nicaragua as powerful category 4 storm

Wednesday, 18 Nov, 2020

The storm's track is similar to Eta, another Category 4 hurricane that battered the area earlier this month, and is forecast to bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and heavy rain to Central America.

As of 10am EST (15:00 GMT), Hurricane Iota was about 335 miles (539 km) off the Nicaraguan-Honduran coast, packing maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Eta hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, killing at least 120 people as torrential rain caused flash floods and mudslides in parts of Central America and Mexico.

Iota came ashore along nearly exactly the same stretch of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast that was devastated by an equally powerful Hurricane Eta just 13 days earlier.

Hurricane Iota represents a challenging threat to a region that is already struggling to recover from another recent catastrophe: Just two weeks before Iota came ashore, Hurricane Eta made landfall as a Category 4 storm in its own right.

Those locations are still reeling after Hurricane Eta made landfall November 3, causing loss of life and extreme destruction of property. Some isolated areas will possibly see up to a total of 20 to 30 inches, especially from northeast Nicaragua into northern Honduras, according to the hurricane center. Iota is expected to keep on a weakening trend and should dissipate over Central America sometime Wednesday.

Espinal said a little extra fuel had arrived on Sunday, allowing him to make some evacuation runs, and that villagers were also making their own way to seek shelter in Puerto Lempira.

People wade in floodwaters caused by Hurricane Iota in Cartagena, Colombia in this still image taken from a social media video dated November 14, 2020.

Jose Coleman, an indigenous activist in Puerto Cabezas, said winds had blown the wood siding off a neighborhood house, leaving it partially collapsed.

"These two storms are hitting at the worst possible time because. farmers are just getting ready to harvest, and they lost massive amounts of beans and other basic grains to the storm", Walsh, in Nicaragua, says.

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

Iota struck Nicaragua on Monday evening with sustained winds of almost 155mph (250km/h), the NHC said.

Vittoria Peñalba, director of sustainability for the aid group World Vision in Nicaragua, said 50,000 coastal dwellers had been evacuated over the weekend and on Monday, a process hampered by roads left washed out and bridges pulverized in Eta's wake. "There has never been a repeat hurricane in such a short time, but what can we do against the force of God and nature", Zamora said.

Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua announced evacuations last week, even as the region was still reeling from the devastation inflicted by Eta.

About 40,000 people in Nicaragua have been evacuated to shelters, authorities said.

Authorities have ordered people to leave the area, but many are refusing, fearing Covid-19.

During Hurricane Eta's indirect influence on Costa Rica, the CNE established 77 shelters which temporarily housed 1,400 people whose homes were at-risk.

Most recently, Iota's maximum sustained winds dropped to 85 miles per hour while over Central America, according to the NHC's 7 a.m. update.