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CARIB | Nov 16, 2020

Category 5: Hurricane Iota spells doom for barely recovered Central America

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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At the summit of the 2020 power scale, Hurricane Iota, now a category five cyclone, stands alone. The massive storm barrels toward a Central America that didn’t get a sliver of time to recover from Hurricane Eta. (Photo: Twitter @NHC_Atlantic)

Hurricane Iota is Central America’s worst fear realised on Monday (November 16) as the catastrophic system will slam into Nicaragua and Honduras as a category five storm later tonight.

It was the disastrous projection weather sleuths at the US-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) foresaw, with the menacing cyclone seeming sure to repeat or even exceed the mayhem observed in Central America just a week prior when Eta made landfall.

In a 1:00 pm EST advisory, the NHC—watching Hurricane Iota feed off the warm Caribbean waters over the last three days—said there is little stopping the system from maintaining its category five status.

“Iota is forecast to continue to be a catastrophic category 5
hurricane when it approaches Central America tonight, and rapid
weakening expected after landfall,” the NHC said.

The centre of Iota, as at 1:00 pm, was located near latitude 13.5
North, longitude 82.3 West—or roughly 130 kilometres east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

GeoColor - True Color daytime, multispectral IR at night
A well-defined and terrfyingly powerful Hurricane Iota, as seen in a time loop from space. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Hurricane Iota barrels west towards Central America at 15 kilometres/hour, clocking 260 kilometres/hour maximum sustained winds and even higher gusts.

A harrowing experience awaits those in northeastern Nicaragua tonight when Hurricane Iota bears down, the NHC continued, as it projects the storm will linger over much of Central America until Wednesday.

“On the forecast track, the core of Iota will make landfall within
the hurricane warning area in northeastern Nicaragua tonight, and
will dissipate over central America by Wednesday,” the NHC indicated.

Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Guatemala and southern Belize could see isolated maximum rainfall totals exceeding 30 inches, US forecasters warned further.

There were no changes to the NHC’s hurricane and tropical storm warnings, as well as hurricane and tropical storm watches, previously activated for the area.

Having avoided much of the adverse impacts from the outer bands of Hurricane Iota, the Jamaica Meteorological Service has maintained its small craft warning for both the north and south coasts of the island.

According to the Met Service, swells generated by Iota will affect much of the Jamaican coastline during the next couple of days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

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