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Hurricane Iota is the second Category 4 storm to hit Nicaragua in two weeks

Both tropical storms travelled in nearly the exact same path

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“This satellite image provided by the National Office for Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Hurricane Iota in the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, Nov. 16 at &;11 AM EST”

(NOAA via AP)

In the past two weeks Nicaragua has been hit by two devastating hurricanes, Eta on Nov. 3 and Iota on Monday night. Both storms were classified as Category 4 hurricanes upon landfall and they touched down at nearly the exact same stretch of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, The Associated Press reports.

About Iota

According to CNN, Iota made landfall near the town of Haulover, Nicaragua, late Monday night as a Category 4 storm. The storm recorded maximum sustained winds near 155 mph upon landfall.

  • Iota intensified into a category 5 storm on Monday afternoon but weakened as it approached the Nicaraguan coastline.
  • As of Tuesday morning, Iota was carrying force winds of 75 mph as the storm progressed inland at a speed of 12 mph. According to the site, the storm will move into southern Honduras late Tuesday and is expected to dissipate by Wednesday night.
  • According to The Weather Channel, this is the first time on record that two major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger — have made landfall in Nicaragua during the same hurricane season. Dating back to the mid-19th century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane database has only documented seven such Category 3-plus storms hitting Nicaragua.
  • Sam Lillo, an NOAA researcher, noted that Iota is the third storm in the last 60 days to intensify by 100 mph over 36 hour span. Prior to this season, only eight other storms had done so in the 169 years of recorded hurricane activity, The Weather Channel reports.
  • Iota is the record-breaking 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily active Atlantic hurricane season.

Damages

According to The Associated Press, Guillermo González, Nicaragua’s director of emergency management, said on Tuesday morning that preliminary reports of the wreckage described fallen trees, electric poles and roofs stripped from homes, but no deaths or injuries. The director confirmed that more than 40,000 people were in shelters as the storm passed.

Early Tuesday the international news site AJ+ tweeted out a series of photos displaying the damages left in the storm’s wake:

Jason Bermúdez, a university student from Bilwi, Nicaragua, described Hurricane Iota to The Associated Press:

This hurricane is definitely worse (than Eta). ... There are already a lot of houses that lost their roofs, fences and fruit trees that got knocked down. ... We will never forget this year.

The British news site SkyNews tweeted out a video of a roof being removed from a Nicaraguan building on Tuesday morning:

While the full extent of the damages from Eta and Iota won’t be tabulated for a while, the destructive storms — combined with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — may have lasting effects that could plague Nicaragua for years, CNN reports.

Hurricane Eta hovered over Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala for days with torrential rains that caused devastating flash floods and landslides that wiped out entire communities. According to The Associated Press, the effects of Eta killed more than 130 people in the region.

CNN reports that dozens of people in the remote Guatemalan village of San Cristobal are still missing after a horrific landslide swept through the community last week. According to the site, the disaster left mud deposits that are 50 feet deep in some areas.

Present dangers

As the Iota progresses inland, flooding has become a major concern in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras, per The Associated Press.

The torrential rains that accompanied Hurricane Eta saturated the soil in the region, leaving it prone to more deadly landslides and floods. The National Hurricane Center released the following message at 8 a.m. MT on Tuesday morning:

Life-threatening flash flooding is expected through Thursday across portions of Central America due to heavy rainfall from Iota. Flooding and mudslides across portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala could be exacerbated by Hurricane Eta’s recent effects there, resulting in significant and potentially catastrophic events.

According to CNN, large portions of the three Central American countries are expecting anywhere between 10 to 30 inches of rain through Thursday night.