Hurricane Eta made landfall just south of Nicaragua's Puerto Cabezas municipality (North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region) as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday, November 3. It is currently sustaining winds of near 220 kph (140mph) with higher gusts. Rapid weakening is likely to occur as the center of the storm moves inland late Tuesday, or early Wednesday, November 4. The government of Honduras has discontinued the Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches that were in effect, although a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the northeastern coast of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border, meaning that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning.
According to the latest National Hurricane Center (NHC) update at 16:00 (local time) on Tuesday, hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km). On the forecast track, the center of Eta is expected to move inland over northern Nicaragua through Wednesday morning, and then move across the central portions of Honduras through Thursday morning, November 5. The system is forecast to emerge over the northwestern Caribbean Sea Thursday night or Friday, November 6.
Storm Eta is expected to produce 380 to 635mm (15-25 inches) of rain, with isolated amounts of 890mm (35 inches). Heavy rain has been reported in northern areas of Honduras on Tuesday, with reports indicating that at least one person was killed in a mudslide in Cortés province. Four bridges were washed out in Copán province in western Honduras, leaving more than 30 towns cut off.
In the coming days, Eta will likely lead to catastrophic winds, life-threatening flash flooding and storm surge, river flooding, and landslides in portions of Central America, particularly in Nicaragua and Honduras, as well as Guatemala and Belize. Flash and river flooding are also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.
Honduras is vulnerable to powerful storms and hurricanes from June to November. These storm systems have the potential to unleash heavy downpours and strong winds as well as storm surges that can wreak havoc in coastal areas. Travel and service delivery are also known to be affected. In addition, storm systems can cause rain-triggered floods and landslides, which pose considerable hazards to both human communities and infrastructure.
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.
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