The powerful hurricane Iota hit Central America on Tuesday, November 17. Authorities evacuated thousands of people from coastal areas of Nicaragua and Honduras, and at least one person was killed as the storm passed Colombia.
The torrential rains of Iota will fall on waterlogged land and on populations already affected by floods and landslides due to Cyclone Eta, which had already devastated the region two weeks ago. The NHC predicts up to 400 millimeters of precipitation over Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Guatemala and southern Belize, with even heavier rains in places reaching cumulative amounts of 760 mm.
The hurricane, the thirteenth of the year to hit Central America, however weakened, during the night of Monday to Tuesday, the winds reaching 165 km / h (against more than 250 km / h). This must further decrease in intensity between now and Wednesday, affecting the interior.
13e Hurricane of the Year in Central America
In Bilwi, Nicaragua, a port city of more than 40,000 inhabitants, mainly Miskito Indians and descendants of Africans, many made efforts on Sunday and Monday to reinforce the roofs of their frail wooden houses. Authorities have ordered residents to leave the area, but many refuse to go to shelters, already saturated, for fear of the Covid-19. “Some 80,000 families will be in danger”, warned Guillermo Gonzalez, head of the Nicaraguan disaster management agency Sinapred.
In Providencia, Colombia, the roof of the local hospital was partially ripped off and more than 6,000 people were without power, according to the chief of police of that island, Colonel John Fredy Sepulveda. One person was killed as the storm passed the island, authorities said.
In Honduras, in anticipation of imminent flooding, police and military evacuated on Sunday by means of canoes and helicopters, for the second successive day, tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Sula Valley, on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula , second largest city in the country. The country was hit hard by Eta, and 40,000 people are still taking refuge in shelters. The government has reduced the water in Honduras’ main hydroelectric dam, in anticipation of Iota rains that could cause it to overflow.
In Guatemala, the disaster management agency called on residents to evacuate in the north and northwest of the country.
Climate change involved
Warming seas caused by climate change make hurricanes stronger longer after they make landfall, scientists say. A record 30 tropical storms have been recorded this season in the Caribbean, Central America and the southeastern United States.
The heads of state of Central America, who accuse the industrialized countries of being responsible for climate change, jointly presented Monday a request for aid for reconstruction to international financial organizations.