Colombian islands feel effects of Category 5 storm as Hurricane Iota approaches

Volunteer firefighters huddle in prayer before beginning a search and rescue operation Nov. 7 in San Cristóbal Verapaz Guatemala in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta

Hurricane Iota strengthens as it heads towards Central America

Meanwhile, Hurricane Iota is now down to a Category 1 and continuing to batter Central America with risky winds, flooding rain and life-threatening storm surge as it moves over northeastern Nicaragua.

"Regardless of tropical cyclone formation, areas of heavy rain are possible during the next several days from Nicaragua southward across Central America and into Colombia".

Iota hit nearly exactly the same stretch of the Caribbean coast that was devastated by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.

"It could reach Category 5 status later today before making landfall with 12-18 feet of storm surge", the hurricane center said, noting it was an "exceptionally unsafe situation".

Hurricane Iota sent zinc roofing flying into the streets, toppled electricity poles and flayed palm trees as it battered northeastern Nicaragua on Tuesday, the second giant storm to strike Central America this month.

The Atlantic hurricane season ends on November 30.

The hurricane was located about 100 miles (160 km) east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua in the Miskito region.

Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year's busy Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane Iota strengthens as it heads towards Central America
Authorities have ordered people to leave the area, but many are refusing to leave out of fear of catching Covid-19. To be a Cat 5, it would need to have maximum sustained winds of at least 157 miles per hour .

A powerful hurricane has brought torrential rains and strong winds to Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, two weeks after another devastating storm hit.

Parts of Central America remain water logged by the passing of Hurricane Eta.

Iota's reaching Category 5 status makes 2020 the fifth year in a row to have a Category 5 hurricane, another record.

US air force hurricane hunters flew into Iota's core and measured maximum sustained winds of 160mph, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

Wriedt said some neighbours went to stay with relatives elsewhere, but most have stayed. It was expected to become a remnant low sometime Sunday, forecasters said.

Central American countries are still recovering from Hurricane Eta that hit just two weeks ago.

The pair of haymakers, Hurricanes Eta and Iota, made landfall just 15 miles apart along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, delivering a one-two punch that has residents reeling and officials scrambling to offer relief.

"We have a critical situation in Providencia", Colombian President Ivan Duque told local radio on Tuesday morning.

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The NHC warned that Iota would deposit as much as 16 inches (40 centimeters) of rain on Honduras, northern Nicaragua, eastern Guatemala and southern Belize, with isolated totals of up to 30 inches.

Numerous people of Miskito are descendants of indigenous groups along with Africans who escaped from slavery and those castaways believed to have survived a 17th-century slave shipwreck.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said Iota is the latest Category 5 hurricane on record, beating the November 8, 1932, Cuba Hurricane.

Honduras and Nicaragua could see flooding and mudslides compounded given Hurricane Eta's recent impact on the region.

Iota had top winds of 75 miles per hour, making it a minimal Category 1 hurricane.

Even after weakening, Iota's rain - with up to 30 inches (76 cm) expected - could cause landslides and more flooding across the water-logged region, the NHC warned, compounding the damage wrought by Eta across Central America.

According to IMN director Werner Stolz, Hurricane Iota's faster overland speed means the storm is having a lesser influence on Costa Rica compared to Eta.

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