Hurricane Iota has rapidly intensified into a high-end Category 4 storm as of Monday morning, packing sustained winds of 155 mph. It’s heading toward parts of Central America that were devastated by Hurricane Eta, another Category 4 storm, just two weeks ago.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has Iota making landfall near Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, by Monday night. There’s a chance it could get a bit stronger just prior to landfall.
The NHC emphasized that Hurricane Iota will produce “catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge and extreme rainfall impacts” in Central America.
As the storm moves inland, winds will rapidly diminish. However, extremely heavy rainfall will affect a large swath of Central America. Totals of 8 to 15 inches are likely over much of northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and portions of southern Mexico, with isolated local amounts of 20 inches or more. These rains will occur over a period of two to three days, which will elevate the severity of the flooding and mudslides. Furthermore, most of the rivers in this region are still elevated from Hurricane Eta’s flooding.
Crop damage is likely in Nicaragua and Honduras as well as some adjacent countries due to severe flooding. Crop logistics will also be severely impacted.
Disruptions to transportation — air, seaport, road and rail — will be severe. Iota will seriously damage supply chains and infrastructure. Some transportation disruptions will be long-term due to washed-out bridges, roads and train tracks, in addition to what occurred two weeks ago. Recovery times in some of the hardest hit areas could take months or even years.