Iota strengthens into hurricane, bears down on Central America

WION Web Team
Tegucigalpa, Honduras Published: Nov 15, 2020, 02:16 PM(IST)

Hurricane Iota Photograph:( Reuters )

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Iota was upgraded to a hurricane early Sunday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Iota became the 13th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season early Sunday -- less than two weeks after powerful storm Eta killed more than 200 people -- and is expected to become a major hurricane as it approaches Central America.

Iota was upgraded to a hurricane early Sunday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Reconnaissance aircraft finds Iota has strengthened into the thirteenth hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season," NHC said.

Iota threatened to wreak more havoc in a region where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Eta -- which hit Nicaragua just over a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane.

Iota is also the 30th named storm of this year's extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season.

Iota is projected to hit the Colombian island of Providencia by late Sunday and is expected to rapidly strengthen into a major hurricane as it approaches Central America.

Hurricane Iota is set to wallop coastal areas of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday. Providencia and parts of Nicaragua and Honduras were under hurricane warnings, forecasters said.

Iota is about 295 miles (475 km) east of Isla De Providencia Colombia with maximum sustained winds 75 miles per hour (120 kph).

"It is likely that the heavy rainfall from Iota, through Thursday, will lead to life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding in parts of northern Colombia and Central America," the NHC warned.

"The flooding and mudslides in Honduras and Nicaragua may be exacerbated by the recent effects of Hurricane Eta in those areas, resulting in significant impacts."

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

The NHC warned that Iota would deposit as much as 16 inches (40 centimeters) of rain on Honduras, northern Nicaragua, eastern Guatemala and southern Belize, with isolated totals of up to 30 inches.

The government also ordered water released from Honduras's main hydroelectric dam, due to danger of it overflowing from Iota's rains.

In Nicaragua, authorities were preparing for "floods, rain, high tides, wind and landslides on saturated soil," said Guillermo Gonzalez, head of the country's disaster response agency Sinapred.

Initial estimates show "some 80,000 families are going to be at risk," he said, with evacuations underway in communities along the border with Honduras.

This year's hurricane season has seen a record 30 named tropical storms across the Caribbean, Central America and the southeastern US.

Eta was the 28th named storm of this year's hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. Theta, the 29th, was weakening over the far eastern Atlantic Ocean. It was expected to become a remnant low by Sunday morning, forecasters said.

(with inputs from agencies)

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