On Monday, November 16, the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction of Guatemala (CONRED) carried out preventative evacuations for residents in river basins at risk of flooding due to the presence of Hurricane Iota. Iota made landfall over northeastern Nicaragua late on Monday and continues to track westwards across Central America on Tuesday, November 17. Whilst it is forecast to weaken on making landfall, heavy rain is expected across much of the region through at least Thursday, November 19. The National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) has estimated that the areas likely to be most affected in Guatemala are the departments of Alta Verapaz, Izabal, Quiché, Huehuetenango, Petén, Zacapa, and Chiquimula. Some of these areas could receive as much as 250-500 mm (10-20 in) of rain. CONRED is therefore carrying out preventative evacuations for those in the Usumacinta, La Pasión, Motagua, La Paz, Polochic, and Chixoy river basins. CONRED has also deployed emergency response teams in preparation to many of these areas, established 1900 emergency shelters, and is preparing aid to be sent to affected areas.
Hurricane Iota threatens to hit areas that have still not recovered from Hurricane Eta, which left dozens dead and nearly a hundred still missing in early November. The storm is likely to cause further landslides on already unstable slopes and inundate already flooded areas. Associated disruptions to transport, businesses, and utilities are expected over the coming days.
Guatemala 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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