Iota continues to pound Nicaragua with strong winds and heavy rains even after weakening from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
As of late Tuesday night, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Iota was carrying maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers an hour on a path towards Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Forecasters say Tropical Storm Iota will dump between 7 to 20 kilometers of rain on a stretch of Central America from southern Nicaragua to southern Belize overnight, leading to “significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding,” along with mudslides in higher areas. The storm is expected to weaken to a tropical depression through the night before dissipating sometime Wednesday.
Iota made landfall Monday on the northeastern coast of Nicaragua Monday carrying maximum winds of 210 kilometers an hour, then grew in speed to 250 kilometers an hour, becoming a Category 5 storm -- the top level on the five-level scale that measures a storm’s potential destructiveness.
The storm left scores of communities cut off from the outside world and forced thousands of residents to evacuate their homes. At least eight people across the region have been killed, including two children who reportedly drowned while trying to cross a flooded river in Nicaragua.
At least one person died in Providencia island, located in Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago, while another person was killed in Panama’s western Ngabe Bugle indigenous community.
Iota is the 30th named storm of this year’s record-setting Atlantic hurricane season. It struck just south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall on November 3 as a Category 4 storm, triggering flash flooding and landslides over parts of Central America and killing more than 130 people.