Hurricane Iota has now rapidly intensified from a mere category 2 hurricane of 100 mph, into a category 4 hurricane.

Iota is currently located at 13.5 degrees north, 80.7 degrees west, about 45 miles east-northeast of Isla De Providencia, Colombia, and about 190 miles east-southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border. The storm is now packing with sustained winds of 140 mph and a minimum central pressure of 935 millibars. The storm is forecast to hit Nicaragua at major hurricane strength, and is still continuing to rapidly intensify.

What to expect in the next hours?

Iota is expected to continue its rapid intensification. A reconnaissance plane is currently in the storm, and has found intense lightning and hail in the southwestern side of the system; hails in a system means that powerful updrafts is occuring in said side of the storm, and is a sign of continued rapid intensification. The plane also got a surface wind outbound of 121 knots (139.2 mph), an inside eye temperature of 21°C (70°F), and a pressure of 935 millibars, when the plane passed through the center, paving the way for the NHC’s special statement.

Is there any warnings in effect?

Yes. This is the list of all warnings in effect, as follows:

  • A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Providencia,
  • the coast of Nicaragua from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi,
  • and the coast of northeastern Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border.
  • A Hurricane Watch is in effect for San Andres,
  • and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for San Andres,
  • the coast of Nicaragua from south of Sandy Bay Sirpi to Bluefields,
  • and the northern coast of Honduras from west of Punta Patuca to Punta Castilla.

What does this warnings mean? Do I have to prepare?

Yes, you need to prepare immediately, as soon as you can. The warnings’ meaning is as follows:

  • A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
  • A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area.
  • A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

What is the current rainfall forecast?

The forecast is as follows:

  • 8 to 16 inches (200 to 400 mm) of rain is expected in Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Guatemala, and southern Belize, with isolated maximum totals of 20-30 inches (500 to 750 mm) of rain possible, especially in northeastern Nicaragua into northern Honduras.
  • Costa Rica and Panama is expected to get 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 mm) of rain, with isolated maximum totals of  12 inches (300 mm) of rain. These kinds of rain can possibly trigger a flash flood event, along with , mudslides, etc.
  • El Salvador and southern Nicaragua is expected to get 3 to 5 inches (75 to 125 mm) of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches (250 mm).
  • Northern Colombia is expected to get an additional 1 to 3 inches (25 to 75 mm) of rain, with isolated maximum totals near 12 inches (300 mm).

Life-threatening storm surge is expected along the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras, and will raise water levels by as much as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Please be prepared for this storm, as this can worsen the floods that the previous storm, Eta, dumped in the Central America. Keep updated with your local officials, and stay safe from this storm. Stay tuned for updates.

References:

The National Hurricane Center’s advisory #11A on Iota: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2020/al31/al312020.public_a.011.shtml?

The National Hurricane Center’s special statement on Iota: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCUAT1+shtml/160644.shtml

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