Hurricane Eta has become a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday afternoon, November 2, and continues to rapidly intensify as it approaches the coast of northeastern Nicaragua, ahead of its forecast landfall on Tuesday morning, November 3. It is currently sustaining winds of near 240 kph (150mph) with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast until Eta reaches the coast of Nicaragua, where it is forecast to weaken after it moves inland.
According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 18:00 (local time), Eta is located about 110km (70 miles) east-northeast of the Nicaragua-Honduras border and Puerto Cabezas and is moving west-southwest at 15 kph (9mph). It is expected to make landfall near Puerto Cabezas, with the worst storm surge flooding taking place to the north of the center.
The NHC is warning of the threat of catastrophic wind damage near where the center crosses along the northeastern coast of Nicaragua on Monday night, or early Tuesday, along with potentially catastrophic and life-threatening storm surges as high as 3.6m - 5.5m (12 - 18ft) above normal tide levels. Hurricane-force winds extend outwards 40 km (25 miles) from the center. Reports indicate that inland rainfall will be more widespread with flooding anticipated and rainfall totals of up to 890 mm (35 inches) and locally higher amounts. Heavy rainfall from Eta is expected through Friday evening, November 6, which will likely lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding, river flooding, and landslides in portions of Central America, particularly in Nicaragua and Honduras, as well as Guatemala and Belize.
The government of Nicaragua has begun evacuating coastal residents with officials issuing a red alert through their System of Prevention, Mitigation, and Warning of Disasters. Multiple shelters have been opened by the government in schools and churches. Hurricane warnings are in effect for coastal Nicaragua from the Honduras border to Sandy Bay Sirpi (South Caribbean Coast Autonomous region), while tropical storm warnings cover regions farther south of that zone, as well as in northeast Honduras. Flash and river flooding are also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.
Nicaragua is semi-regularly affected by tropical storm systems, which can approach from its Caribbean coast from June through November. These storms can be particularly ravaging for rural areas, many of which have suffered catastrophic damage from winds and flooding in the past.
Those in affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
Copyright and Disclaimer