In its latest update on Iota, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported the storm has strengthened significantly over the Caribbean Sea into a category five storm, with sustained wind speeds of 260kph (150mph); however, as it made landfall in Nicaragua near the town of Haulover on Monday evening, November 16, it weakened into a category four storm. Currently, there have been no reports of damage or casualties. A hurricane warning is in effect for coastal areas of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the border with Nicaragua. A tropical storm warning has also been issued for areas east of Punta Patuca to Punta Castilla.
The Honduran government issued evacuation orders for coastal communities in the municipalities of La Lima, Choloma, and Tela on Sunday, November 15, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Iota. Many of the communities likely to be affected by Hurricane Iota are still recovering from the passage of Hurricane Eta at the beginning of November, with damaged infrastructure and limited fuel availability in many coastal areas, including Puerto Lempira, hampering evacuation and storm preparation efforts. A full list of communities subject to evacuation orders can be found here.
Hurricane conditions are likely to cause wind damage, flooding, and landslides in western Honduras from Monday until Thursday, November 19, along with associated disruptions to transport, businesses, and utilities.
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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