Despite some minor setbacks for the storm yesterday, Hurricane Iota has begun to strengthen and at an alarming pace. It is now expected to make landfall as an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane and once again bring catastrophic impacts to Nicaragua and Honduras. Everyone should take the necessary precautions in this area as it will most likely just exasperate the effects of previous Hurricane Eta.
Current Information and Forecast
Hurricane Iota is currently located at 13.1 N, 78.9 W or about 170 miles (275km) East of Isla De Providencia, Columbia or about 315 miles (530km) East Southeast of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border. Maximum sustained winds are at 90mph (150kph) and the pressure has continued to fall down to 977 millibars. Iota is now a high end Category 1 storm with further intensification predicted today. Conditions are very favorable for this storm with 28-29C sea surface temperatures and very little wind shear. The National Hurricane Center predicts an extreme phase of rapid intensification over the next 30 hours before landfall with the storm peaking at 140mph (225kph) around that time. This would make the storm a Catastrophic Category 4 and very similar to Eta in intensity. After landfall the storm is expected to slow down over Nicaragua and Honduras and bring relentless amounts of rain before dissipating over the mountains in about 4 days. With these factors in mind there are several Watches and Warnings currently in effect. A Hurricane Warning is in effect from Punta Patuca, Honduras South to Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua including the Honduras and Nicaragua border as well as the island of Providencia. This means life-threatening hurricane conditions are expected in at least 36 hours and all preparations must be rushed to completion in this area. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the island of San Andres which means Hurricane Conditions are possible in at least 48 hours and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for San Andres, Sandy Bay Sirpi to Bluefields, Nicaragua and Punta Patuca to Punta Castilla which means Tropical Storm conditions are expected to begin in at least 36 hours.
Overall Threat to Land
This storm will be a worst case scenario for this region. Tropical Storm force winds will likely begin around 2-6pm EST on Monday and Hurricane force winds will arrive a few hours there after. These winds will cause greater devastation to areas that were severely affected by Hurricane Eta just about 2 weeks earlier. Structure damage will be wind spread and may include entire roof and even wall failure. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and most power polls will fall, isolating communities as these could fall on roads and block relief efforts from coming for several days. The storm will propel a life-threatening 10-15′ storm surge which will cause significant damage along the coast with some structures potentially being wiped out by the fast moving waters. These affects however will be mainly isolated to a small area along and hear the landfall area. However, rainfall will one again be the main threat and spread further inland and out from the storm. As much as 20-30 inches (500-750mm) can fall across Nicaragua and Honduras. This is over already well saturated ground and even areas still flooding from Eta. This storm will only hamper relief efforts causing further flooding across this area which may be more destructive after several areas having their flooding defenses washed out with Eta. The rain will also bring an increased risk of land and mud slides as the rain will already be falling saturated and loose soil of the mountains which could wipe out roads and even villages in the region, isolating them for weeks, perhaps months.
Consult your local weather authorities, governmental officials and The National Hurricane Center for further information. Evacuate if you can and when the storm arrives, do not venture outside!
Satellite Imagery Credits: Isaac G.