Hurricane Etawah made landfall late Monday night off the coast of northeastern Nicaragua and is expected to cause catastrophic damage in the same parts of Central America affected by Hurricane Etah two weeks ago. The storm was changed to Category 4 just before the landslide occurred, but the US National Hurricane Center warned that it was still “extremely dangerous.”
The National Hurricane Center said that the storm struck the city of Hellover, about 30 miles south of Puerto Cabezas, around 10:40 pm. It had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, just shy of 157 mph to be a class 5, the most powerful ranking a hurricane could have.
Iota was hitting the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras with torrential rains and strong winds, while the western shore began beating the Nicaraguan coast.
Iota made a storm 15 miles south, where Hurricane Etah had landed weeks earlier. Etah’s torrential rain saturated the soil, creating new landslides and the threat of flooding. Forecasters warn that the storm may rise 15 to 20 feet above normal tide.
Iota was forecast to release 10 to 20 inches of rain in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, while isolated locations had more than 30 inches. The storm center said Costa Rica and Panama also may experience heavy rains and possible flooding.
On Monday, Yasmina Vrat’s mind wreaked havoc in the El Mulele neighborhood of Bilvi, which was tight against the sea.
“The situation is not good at all,” Wriedt said. “We woke up without electricity, with rain and the surf getting really high.”
Victory, who works for a small fishing organization called Piquetinera, said that Eta blew up the roof of her house. “We repaired it at best, but now I think the wind will take it again as they say (Iota) is even stronger,” said Wriedt, as climbing neighbors’ windows and reinforced roofs The sound of him buzzing around.
During Eta, Surf follows her back to her home, where she lives with eight other members of her family. “Today I am afraid of losing my house again and we are terrified for all who live in this neighborhood.”
Wriedt said some neighbors had gone to live with relatives elsewhere, but most have stayed. “We’re almost here,” he said. “Neither the army nor the government came to relocate us.”
Nicaragua Emergency Response Project Manager for Catholic Relief Services Cairo Jerkin had just visited Bilawi and small coastal communities on Friday.
At Wawa Bar, Jerkin said he found “total destruction”. People were furiously working to put a roof over their families’ heads, but now Etawah threatened to take what was left.
“The little one who was left standing can be amazed,” Jarquin said. Other communities were inland that they were not able to reach because of the condition of the roads. He said that he had heard that the Wawa bar was evacuated again on Saturday.
During the weekend evacuations were conducted from low-lying areas in Nicaragua and Honduras near their shared border.
Nicaraguan vice-president Rosario Murillo, who is also the first woman, said on Monday the government had done everything necessary to protect lives, including the evacuation of thousands. He said that Taiwan had donated 800 tons of rice to help those affected by the storm.
Limborth Bucardo, of the Miskito indigenous ethnic group, said many people had gone to churches in Bilawi. He rides Eta home with his wife and two children, but this time decides to move to a safer neighborhood with relatives.
“We had not finished repairing our homes and preparing to settle when another storm arrived,” Bucardo said. “Shelters in Billawy are already full, filled with people from (nearby) communities.”
Iota is the record 30th hurricane of this year’s exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. It is the ninth hurricane to accelerate this season, a dangerous event that is occurring more frequently. Such activity has focused on climate change, which scientists say is creating wetter, stronger, more frequent and more destructive storms.
Hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach of Corata State University said Etawah is stronger based on central pressure than Hurricane Katrina of 2005 and is the first hurricane with a Greek alphabet name. It also sets the record for the latest Category 5 hurricane on record, beating the mark set by the Cuban hurricane on November 8, 1932.
Etah had hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, killing more than 130 people as torrential rains caused flooding and torrential rain in parts of Central America and Mexico. Then it melted around Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico before re-sheltering near the dashing Keer in Cedar, Florida, and Carolinas.
The prospect of more rain was raising concerns of homeless people even after Etah.
Eta was the 28th storm of the year, breaking the 2005 record. The remains of the 29th Theta dissolved in the East Atlantic Ocean on Sunday.
Over the past few decades, meteorologists have been more concerned about hurricanes like Iota that give lightning much faster than normal. He created an official limit for this sheer intensity – hurricanes at a wind speed of 35 mph in just 24 hours. Etawah doubled it.
Earlier this year, Hannah, Laura, Sally, Teddy, Gamma, Delta, Zeta and Iota all became increasingly intense. Laura and Delta created or set records for sheer intensity.
The official end of the hurricane season is 30 November.