MIAMI – Hurricane Iota, a powerful Category 5 storm, is approaching the Nicaraguan coast packing maximum sustained winds of 260 kilometers (161 miles) per hour, and experts expect it to make landfall on Monday night, bringing with it a storm surge of up to six meters (20 feet) and 750 millimeters (30 inches) of rain.
In its latest storm advisory, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported that the storm is located 130 km (80 mi.) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and 100 km (65 mi.) west of the Colombian island of Providencia.
Iota, which on Monday morning intensified to a major hurricane, is moving west at 15 kph and should hit northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras, which are under hurricane warnings.
The NHC said that the storm was potentially “catastrophic” and warned of torrential rain, tremendous wind and a dangerous storm surge throughout the region that earlier this month was devastated by Hurricane Eta.
Iota, which once it makes landfall will weaken and disperse by Wednesday, is presently hitting the San Andres and Providencia archipelago after leaving substantial damage in northern Colombia, while Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Autonomous Region is preparing for the worst.
Hurricane force winds extend out some 55 km from Iota’s eye, while tropical storm force winds extend out some 240 km.
Meteorologists predict that the 30 inches of rain the storm is expected to dump in the region will cause heady flooding, overflowing rivers and mudslides.
On Nov. 3, Eta hit the region, destroying thousands of homes and damaging many thousands more.
So far this year, there have been 30 named tropical storms, of which 13 have become hurricanes and, of those, six have been major storms of Category 3 or higher.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially lasts until Nov. 30.
Meanwhile, Central American governments on Monday proposed a joint reconstruction plan to deal with the damage left during the first week of this month by Hurricane Eta, which devasted the region as a Cat 4 storm, killing dozens.
“We’re proposing a joint action plan. We have emergency aid and we can coordinate with other cooperating entities and friendly countries from the BCIE (Central American Economic Integration Bank) for more funds for this emergency,” said the head of the regional financing source, Dante Mossi.
The plan was agreed on at a virtual meeting held in Tegucigalpa on Monday participated in by the presidents of Honduras (Juan Orlando Hernandez), Guatemala (Alejandro Giammattei), Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega), Costa Rica (Carlos Alvarado) and the Dominican Republic (Luis Abinader) to try and create a “roadmap for the mobilization of resources for the emergency of Tropical Storm Eta.”
Mossi said that $2.5 billion would be reallocated by the BCIE to reestablish infrastructure, dams and rebuild housing.