“Extremely dangerous” Hurricane Iota in category 4 hit early Monday in the western Caribbean waters to Central America, where it is expected to land in the same region destroyed by Hurricane Eta last week, forecasters said.
The rapidly strengthening Iota could end up as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane by the time it reaches land, forecasters said.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center advised Monday at 4 a.m. that Iota had maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour and was concentrated about 170 miles southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border as it moved to west at 10 miles per hour.
Iota, the 30th storm of this year’s extremely heavy hurricane season in the Atlantic, is expected to reach mainland Central America late Monday, according to the Miami-based NHC.
He predicted “potentially catastrophic winds, life-threatening storms and extreme rainfall”
In Honduras, where the mandatory evacuations began before the weekend, about 63,500 people were in 379 shelters in the northern region until Sunday night.
Nicaraguan authorities, meanwhile, said by late Sunday afternoon, about 1,500 people had been evacuated from low-lying areas in the northeastern part of the country, including all in Cayo Miskitos.
In the coastal town of Bilvi, residents were desperately trying to secure the roofs of wooden houses with the same zinc sheets torn from Eta. Many people wrapped their belongings in plastic bags to protect them from the expected flood.
“We are worried, we are nervous. Psychologically, we do not do well because it is not easy to lose our things and start over. “Some of us have old houses and we risk losing everything,” Sylvania Zamora told AFP.
Iota was expected to drop up to 16 inches of rain in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, with up to 30 inches in isolated areas.
With Post wires