Hurricane Iota made landfall on northeastern Nicaragua Monday night, where it is expected to cause catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America that was already affected by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago. The storm was downgraded to Type 4 shortly before the landslide, but the National Hurricane Center warned it was still a “very dangerous” storm.
The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued. It was blowing at a maximum speed of 155 mph. Ioda hit the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras with rain and strong winds, while the western edge began to hit Nicaraguan beaches.
Weeks ago, Hurricane Eta caused a landslide 15 miles south of where Ioda landed. Etta’s downpour completed the soil, and now it is prone to new landslides and floods. Forecasters warned that the storm surge could reach 15 to 20 feet higher than normal waves.
That storm surge was on Yasmina Wright’s mind in the vicinity of Pilvi’s El Mulle on Monday, sitting tight against the sea.
“The situation is not good,” White said. “We woke up without electricity. With the rain, the surf is very high.”
Fried, who works at a small-scale fishing organization called Bicunera, said the roof of his house was blown off two weeks ago in Etta. “We fixed it as much as we could, and now I think the wind will take it back, because they say they (Iota) are even stronger,” Wright said, echoing around her as neighbors climbed on the windows and reinforced roofs.
During Etta, the surf came to the back of her house, where she lives with the other eight members of the family. “Today I am afraid again of losing my home. I am afraid of all of us who live in this neighborhood.”
Some neighbors have moved elsewhere with relatives, but most have stayed, White said. “We’re almost here,” he said. “Neither the army nor the government came to move us.”
Cairo Jarkin, Nicaragua’s emergency response project manager for Catholic Relief Services, visited Bilvey and small coastal communities on Friday.
Wawa said at the bar that he saw the “total destruction” of Jarkin. People have been working frantically to put roofs over the heads of their families, but now Iota is threatening to take the rest.
“It can destroy the little ones that were standing,” Jarkin said. There were other communities locally that he could not even reach because of the condition of the roads. He said he heard Wawa Bar was evicted again on Saturday.
Over the weekend evacuation sites were removed from low-lying areas in Nicaragua and Honduras.
First Lady Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said on Monday that the government had done everything necessary to save lives, including evacuating thousands. He added that Taiwan had donated 800 tonnes of rice to help those affected by the storm.
Limport Bucardo, a Miskito tribesman, said many went to churches in Bilvi. He left Etta at home with his wife and two children, but this time decided to move to a safer neighborhood with relatives.
“We repaired our homes and didn’t settle down when another hurricane came,” Bucardo said. “The shelters in Bilvi are already packed, with people from (surrounding) communities.”
Ioda is the 30th named storm of the unusually busy Atlantic hurricane season this year. This is the ninth hurricane to intensify this season, and it is a dangerous event. Such activity has focused on climate change, with scientists claiming to cause wet, strong and devastating storms.
Bill Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, said that Iota was stronger in terms of central pressure than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and that it was the first storm to be named after Greek characters. It broke the record set by Hurricane Cuba on November 8, 1932, and set the record for the most recent Type 5 hurricane.
Etta hit Nicaragua as a Type 4 hurricane, killing at least 130 people as flooding and landslides caused by torrential rains in parts of Central America and Mexico. It then plunged around Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico, before landing again near Cedar Key, Florida, and across Florida and the Carolinas.
Iota predicts 10 to 20 inches of rain in northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, with 30 inches of isolated areas. The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued.
After Etta there was a chance of more rain worrying more homeless people.
On Monday, Carmen Isabel Rodriguez Ordes, 48, was living in a government shelter with more than 250 people in La Lima, Honduras, just outside of San Pedro Sula. She was devastated by the destruction of Etta, and quickly throbbed at the thought of another storm of torrential rain.
“We live a dream come true,” Rodriguez said. The Chameleon River flooded her reformed neighborhood as Eta passed by. “Now they are announcing more rain and we do not know what is going to happen because our houses are completely submerged.”
Etta was the 28th storm named this year, which equaled the 2005 record. Remains of the 29th Theta disintegrated Sunday in the East Atlantic Ocean.
For the past two decades, meteorologists have been more concerned about storms like Iota, which are operating much faster than normal. They created an official gateway to this rapid intensity – a storm reaching 35 mph in just 24 hours. Iota doubled it.
Earlier this year, Hannah, Laura, Sally, Teddy, Gamma, Delta, Zeta and Iota all intensified rapidly. Laura and Delta set the record for rapid intensification.
The official end of the hurricane season is November 30th.