Hurricane Eta made landfall just south of 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.
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.
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.
Storm Eta is expected to produce 380 to 635mm (15-25 inches) of rain, with isolated amounts of 890mm (35 inches). Reports indicate that Eta caused damage to property in Puerto Cabezas and toppled trees. Nicaragua's National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Attention stated that 30,000 people had been evacuated to shelters prior to Eta's landfall. About 6000 families were in shelters in Puerto Cabezas, a city of around 75,000 people.
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.
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.
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