MANAGWA, Nicaragua – Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Iota is sweeping the western Caribbean and turned into a very dangerous Category 4 storm early Monday as it heads to the same part of Central America dotted by a similarly powerful Hurricane Eta just over a week ago. .
RISCH REICHMUTT: IOTA CAN CAUSE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
Forecasters said Iota continues to show signs of strengthening and could be a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane when it reaches Central America.
The evacuations were carried out from low-lying areas of Nicaragua and Honduras near their common border, which appeared to be the probable Iota drought. Wind and rain were already being felt on the Nicaraguan coast on Sunday night.
HURRICANE IOTA FOR THE DELIVERY OF “POTENTIALLY DISASTER”
Iota turned into a hurricane early Sunday and quickly gained strength and was expected to pass over or near the Colombian island of Providence at night. It became a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Monday morning, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned it would likely reach mainland Central America late Monday.
The Hurricane Center said Iota had maximum steady winds of 145 mph per hour for 4 a.m. EST. It was concentrated about 170 miles southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the border between Nicaragua and Honduras and was moving west at 10 mph.
This was already a record system, which was the 30th storm of this year’s extremely heavy hurricane season in the Atlantic. Such activities have drawn attention to climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.
In Honduras, mandatory evacuations began before the weekend, and by Sunday evening, 63,500 people were reported to have been in 379 shelters in the northern region, while the entire country was on high alert.
Nicaraguan authorities said that by late Sunday afternoon, about 1,500 people, nearly half of them children, had been evacuated from low-lying areas in the northeastern part of the country, including all residents of Cayo Miskitos. Authorities say 83,000 people in the region are at risk.
Wind and rain began to be felt on Sunday night in Bilvi, a coastal Nicaraguan city, where people during the day crowded markets and hardware stores in search of plastic sheets, nails and other materials to strengthen their homes, just like Hurricane Eta. on November 3.
Several residents of Billy expressed concern that their homes would not oppose Iota so soon after Eta. Local television showed that people were evacuated in wooden boats, carrying small children, as well as dogs and chickens.
Authorities have warned that the risk is high because Iota is likely to land over areas where Eta’s torrential rains leave the soil more saturated with water and more susceptible to new landslides and floods.
Eta has already made a mess. It hit Nicaragua like a Category 4 hurricane, killing at least 120 people as torrential rains caused torrential floods and landslides in parts of Central America and Mexico. It then meandered through Cuba, Florida Keys and around the Gulf of Mexico, before descending again ashore near Cedar Key, Florida, and tossed through Florida and Carolina.
Iota is expected to rain 8 to 16 inches in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, with up to 30 inches in isolated areas. Costa Rica and Panama may also suffer heavy rain and possible flooding, the hurricane center said.
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Eta was the 28th declared storm for this year’s hurricane season, setting a 2005 record for named storms. Theta, 29th, was far in the eastern Atlantic and became a residual low Sunday.
The official end of the hurricane season is November 30.