• ITVI.USA
    13,754.510
    83.820
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.920
    -0.140
    -0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,721.420
    82.630
    0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.840
    0.040
    1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    -0.170
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.070
    -0.210
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.090
    -6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.280
    -0.210
    -8.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.900
    -0.070
    -3.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.720
    -0.270
    -9%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,754.510
    83.820
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.920
    -0.140
    -0.6%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,721.420
    82.630
    0.6%
  • TLT.USA
    2.840
    0.040
    1.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    -0.170
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.070
    -0.210
    -6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.090
    -6.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.280
    -0.210
    -8.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.900
    -0.070
    -3.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.720
    -0.270
    -9%
  • WAIT.USA
    127.000
    0.000
    0%
InsightsNewsWeather and Critical Events

Hurricane Eta forecast to cause catastrophic damage in Central America

Landfall likely Tuesday in Nicaragua as a major hurricane

Hurricane Eta, the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, is closing in on Central America. It will likely produce areas of major flooding and wind damage this week.

As of 10 a.m. EST Monday, Eta was centered about 140 miles northeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, on the country’s northeastern coast. Eta’s eye could make landfall right over this area Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for the northern half of the Nicaraguan coast, as well as a tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch for northeastern Honduras.

Forecast

Reconnaissance aircraft and satellite data indicate that Eta is rapidly strengthening. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph (175 km/h), with higher gusts. This is a Category 2 storm for now. NHC meteorologists are forecasting Eta to become at least a Category 3 major hurricane prior to landfall, then weakening will begin after the system moves inland.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 25 miles from the center, and tropical storm-force winds extend up to 115 miles. Eta could grow in size, meaning hurricane- and tropical storm-force winds could spread out even farther from the eye.

Eta could move into the southern Gulf of Mexico this weekend as a tropical depression. But it may return to tropical storm or hurricane status, possibly hitting Florida next week.

Winds

Catastrophic wind damage is likely to begin Monday night in the hurricane warning area, where Eta’s eyewall will move onshore. Tropical storm conditions will develop in this region Monday afternoon. 

The NHC expects tropical storm conditions in the tropical storm warning area by Monday afternoon, with hurricane conditions possible in the hurricane watch area by early Tuesday.

SONAR Critical Events: Hurricane Eta, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, 10 a.m EST

Rainfall

Eta could produce rainfall totals of 15 to 25 inches across much of Honduras and Nicaragua, with 10 to 20 inches in eastern Guatemala and Belize, in addition to portions of Panama and Costa Rica.

This rainfall could lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in high terrain areas. Flash flooding and river flooding are possible across Jamaica, southeastern Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands.

Storm surge

Within the hurricane warning area, a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels and 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels along the coast of Honduras within the tropical storm warning area. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Impact on freight

Fortunately, there are no major global ports in Hurricane Eta’s likely path. However, widespread power outages will cause major disruptions in local and regional supply chains, as well as surface and air transportation.

Crop damage is likely in Nicaragua and Honduras and could extend to other countries in Central America depending upon the extent of the flooding.

Eta is the 28th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying 2005 for the most number of named storms (tropical storm and hurricanes) on record for a single season. Eta is also the 12th hurricane this season. Only the following seasons have produced 12 or more hurricanes: 1969, 2005 and 2010.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his nearly 20 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.