Major hurricane set to hit Nicaragua and Honduras

Iota is 30th named storm of 2020’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season

Workers of banana fields come across a flooded road while evacuating the area in El Progreso,  Honduras, on Saturday, before the arrival of Hurricane Iota. Photograph: Orlands Sierra/AFP via Getty Images)

Workers of banana fields come across a flooded road while evacuating the area in El Progreso, Honduras, on Saturday, before the arrival of Hurricane Iota. Photograph: Orlands Sierra/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Iota has become the 13th hurricane of the Atlantic season, threatening to bring another dangerous system to Nicaragua and Honduras — countries recently clobbered by Category 4 Hurricane Eta.

Iota was already a record-breaking system, being the 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season. Such activity has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

The US National Hurricane Centre said early on Sunday that Iota had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane. But forecasters said Iota would rapidly strengthen and was expected to be a major hurricane by the time it reaches Central America.

Iota was centred about 475km (295 miles) east of Isla de Providencia, Colombia, and was moving west at 8kph (5 mph). Forecasters said Iota was expected to pass or cross over Providencia on Monday and then approach the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras in the evening.

The system was forecast to bring up to 76cm (30 in) of rain from northeast Nicaragua into northern Honduras. Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador could also experience heavy rain and possible flooding, the hurricane centre said.

Forecasters said the island of Providencia and parts of Nicaragua and Honduras were under hurricane warnings. Storm surge could increase water levels by up to 4m (13 ft) in the region.

Iota threatened to wreak more havoc in an area where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Eta. That system hit Nicaragua just over a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane, killing at least 120 people as torrential rains brought flash floods and landslides to parts of Central America and Mexico.

Then it meandered across Cuba, the Florida Keys and around the Gulf of Mexico before moving ashore again near Cedar Key, Florida, and dashing across Florida and the Carolinas.

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.–PA