Hurricane Iota has defied all expectations and strengthened to an unprecedented Category 5 Hurricane, the first of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. very little time-if any-remains before the onset of Tropical Storm force winds as this storm will most likely make landfall at peak strength.
Hurricane Iota is currently located at 13.5N 82.0W or about 40 miles (65km) West of Providencia Island or about 100 (160km) East Southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Maximum Sustained winds are at 160mph and the pressure has continues to fall to 917 millibars (27.08inHg). The storm has gone under an extreme faze of rapid intensification with the pressure falling 61 millibars and the winds increasing by 70mph (110kph) in just 24 hours. Hurricane Iota is now the strongest Category 5 on record for the month of November and the strongest storm since Dorian of 2019. This is not a force to recon with as it is expected to strengthen even more and make landfall as a 165mph (265km) Hurricane at the exact same spot Hurricane Eta hit about 2 weeks earlier. Rapid weakening is expected afterwards over the mountains but heavy rainfall will still occur. Several Watches and warnings still remain in effect with a Hurricane warning in effect for Providencia Island and from Punta Patusa, Honduras to Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua. This means Hurricane Conditions are expected in less than 24 hours and all preparations should be completed now. A Hurricane Watch is currently in effect for San Andres meaning Hurricane Conditions are possible in the warned area. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for San Andres, the remainder of the Honduras coast and the Bay Islands, and Sandy Bay Sirpi to Bluefields, Nicaragua. This means Tropical Storm conditions are expected to commence very soon.
Overall Threat to Land
Catastrophic impacts are expected. Hurricane Iota is arriving about 2 weeks after Hurricane Eta hit the same area as a Category 4 and will only exacerbate the impacts from this storm. 165mph (265kph) winds will cause catastrophic wind damage which will include widespread entire roof and wall failure. Few trees will remain standing and the ones that will be mostly or completely defoliated. The vast majority of power polls will fall, isolating communities for several weeks. The winds will cause blowing debris to be widespread and cause additional destruction to buildings. All windows will blow out. The winds will propel a life-threatening storm surge which will be as high as 15-20 feet (4.5-6 meters). This will cause additional structural damage and may be able to lift entire houses off their foundations. as it will spread far inland from the coast. Anyone caught outside in these condition will be killed. The storm will drop up to 30 inches (760mm) of rain over already saturated and flooded areas. Widespread river and urban flash flooding will occur and will isolate and make many areas uninhabitable for several weeks, potentially months. Landslides will be widespread in the already saturated mountainous regions which will be able to wipe out roads and even bury entire villages. People in these areas should prepare for the worst and evacuate if they can. Only a few hours remain before landfall and winds are already lapping at the coast.
Once the onset of Tropical Storm Force occurs, do not venture outside and do not venture into the eye!
Satellite Image Credits: Isaac G.