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Iota makes landfall as Category 4 storm, lashes Nicaragua, Honduras

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 1:28 PM CST
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(WIFR) - Take this into perspective, 15 miles. That is roughly the distance from Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan to JFK International Airport in Queens, is all that separates Puerto Cabezas and Haulover in Nicaragua.

On Monday night, Hurricane Iota made landfall near the town of Haulover, becoming the second major hurricane in as many weeks to strike the area after Hurricane Eta came ashore in Puerto Cabezas on Nov. 3. Officials say, according to AccuWeather that at least 3 deaths are being blamed on the storm with several other reports of people missing,

This region was beginning recovery efforts after Eta made landfall on November 3. Hurricane Iota brought even stronger winds along with it, packing near 155 mile per hour winds as it made landfall Monday night. Because of that, Iota marks the strongest tropical cyclone of the very busy and record-breaking 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season.

Briefly before making landfall, Iota gained wind speeds to become a Category 5 storm. Because of this storm, 2020 marks the fifth consecutive Atlantic hurricane season with a Category 5 storm. Matthew began the pattern in 2016, and Irma and Maria continued the trend in 2017, followed by Michael in 2018, and Dorian and Lorenzo in 2019. This is the longest streak of consecutive years with a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic basin since records began.

Making landfall at 10:40 p.m. EST Monday, Iota’s maximum sustained winds were just 2 mph shy of Category 5 status. By Tuesday night, as the center of Iota barged inland across Nicaragua and into Honduras, it had weakened to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 40 mph and was spreading heavy rainfall across Honduras, El Salvador and parts of Guatemala.

Both hurricane brought devastation to the same regions of Central America.
Both hurricane brought devastation to the same regions of Central America.(Ethan Rosuck, WIFR)

If you look at the graphic above, Iota and Eta made very similar landfalls and continued paths across Central America this month. This marked the first time ever on record that two major hurricanes made landfall in Nicaragua in the same season. Eta claimed at least 130 lives at the beginning of November.

Meteorologists say catastrophic damage is present across northern Nicaragua and in parts of Honduras from Iota, as many spots received as much as 30 inches of rain.

Iota became the sixth major hurricane of the season, or a hurricane that has reached Category 3 status or greater on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, and it follows Laura, Teddy, Delta, Epsilon and Eta.

Remnants of Iota continue to dissipate over Central America with a heavy rain threat that continues, according to the National Hurricane Center. Flash flooding and river flooding is expected through Thursday across portions of Central America with the heavy rainfall. Flooding and mudslides across portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala could be exacerbated by saturated soils in place, resulting in potentially catastrophic impacts.

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