Tropical Storm Iota formed a bit ahead of schedule yesterday under a supportive upper-level pattern and warm Caribbean water. All factors point to Iota rapidly intensifying between now and when it gets to the Nicaragua or Honduras coast in a few, so the National Hurricane Center is being aggressive in their forecast. The official forecast is for Iota to be at Category 3 strength when it makes landfall.
Under the premise, be ready for one category higher than forecast, people in Central America need to be thinking about the possibility of yet another Category 4.
Category 4 Hurricane Eta made landfall in that same area almost exactly 2 weeks ago. There was major flooding, destructive rivers of mud cascading down the mountainous terrain, and significant loss of life. It’s hard to believe that another intense hurricane is forecast to head in that same direction.
A strong high-pressure system will spread across Florida and the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days. This blocking high will keep Iota from turning north, and the clockwise flow around the broad bubble of high pressure should propel the hurricane to the west into Central America, where it is forecast to die out over the mountains.
The initial high will be reinforced by a stronger high-pressure system behind a cold front that is forecast to move down the peninsula in the middle of next week. This fall weather pattern will push the tropical moisture well to the south with a major dose of dry northern air covering the entire state.
Long-range computer models maintain the fall weather pattern over Florida for the foreseeable future, which will be hostile to tropical systems. There’s a decent chance that the atmosphere has finally flipped to a fall and winter pattern at our latitude.
In the extreme southern Caribbean Sea, however, the water temperature is still in the mid-80s and the atmospheric environment is forecast to be fairly supportive of tropical development. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see a storm named Kappa develop in that area in a week or so.