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Hurricane Iota continues to pummel Nicaragua and Honduras

Tracking Hurricane Iota on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.
Tracking Hurricane Iota on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

A tragically unbelievable thing happened last evening. Vicious Category 4 Hurricane Iota — just one notch below Category 5 strength — made landfall almost exactly where Category 4 Hurricane Eta hit just 13 days before. The landfall locations were 14 miles apart on the Nicaraguan coast. Never before since records began have two Category 4 storms even formed in the month of November, let alone hit the same people.

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like in those coastal towns in eastern Nicaragua after dark yesterday and last night. Even on the north coast of Honduras, they have taken a tremendous beating. High wind and unsurvivable storm surge are continuing today.

Iota’s winds are slowly winding down, now that the center is over land and part of the circulation is interacting with the rugged terrain of Nicaragua, Honduras, and the surrounding countries. But this is when the monstrous flood threat kicks in. The intense circulation above ground level will interact with the tall mountains to produce rainfall up to 20 to 30 inches. The rain that falls at high elevations will cascade down the mountains in an avalanche of water, mud, and debris.

The stunning thing is, of course, that this same thing just happened a week before last from Hurricane Eta.

Iota should die out completely in a couple of days as the circulation gets mangled by the tall mountains of Central America.

Computer forecast models continue to indicate that yet another storm might form in the extreme southern Caribbean late this week, a bit south of where Iota made landfall.  While the atmospheric environment has become hostile to tropical development over Florida, Cuba, and the northern Caribbean, a pocket of somewhat supportive conditions is forecast to remain over the extreme southern Caribbean Sea off the coast of Costa Rica and Panama.

Current indications are that it wouldn’t be very strong. It wouldn’t have much time over water. If it were to develop and acquire wind of 40 mph or higher, it would be called Tropical Storm Kappa.

Hurricane Iota, of course, reached Category 5 strength just offshore of the Nicaraguan coastline, before weakening slightly to a top-end Category 4 at landfall. If you’ve been around for a while, you remember, no doubt, when Category 5 hurricanes were a pretty rare thing. Now it seems, they’ve become a regular occurrence.  We’ve had 8 in the last 5 years.  A daunting prospect if that continues.

Advisory summary for Hurricane Iota

About the Author:

Bryan Norcross is currently a hurricane specialist at Local 10 News, the station where he began his stretch on television in Miami in 1983.