Nicaragua Braces for Catastrophic Damage as Category 4 Hurricane Eta Nears Landfall

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Rescue working in a flooded area due to Hurricane Eta, in Tela, Honduras, on Monday.

Eta, a powerful Category 4 hurricane, continued to gain strength as it neared the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, where it was expected to make landfall early Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

As of 10 p.m. Eastern on Monday, the storm was about 45 miles east of Puerto Cabezas, a Nicaraguan port town, and had maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. The storm was moving west-southwest at about 7 miles per hour.

“Life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding and landslides expected across portions of Central America,” an advisory from the Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane warning was in effect for a stretch of the Nicaraguan coast from the border with Honduras in the north to Sandy Bay Sirpi.

The storm was expected to move over northern Nicaragua through Wednesday night and then across central portions of Honduras on Thursday, losing strength as it leaves the Caribbean behind, the Hurricane Center said.

In addition to catastrophic wind damage, forecasters said the hurricane could dump as much as 25 inches of rain on much of Nicaragua and Honduras, with volumes reaching 35 inches in some locations. Eastern Guatemala and Belize were expected to receive between 10 and 20 inches, while portions of Panama and Costa Rica could see between 10 and 15 inches.

Forecasters also warned of a storm surge of as much as 21 feet above normal tide levels along the Nicaragua coast, and swells causing “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” along the Caribbean coast in Central America and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

Eta is the 28th named storm — and the 12th hurricane — in the Atlantic hurricane season, tying a record for most named storms set in 2005.

Only three other Atlantic hurricane seasons on record have had at least 12 hurricanes: 1969 (12 hurricanes); 2005 (15 hurricanes); and 2010 (12 hurricanes), said Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
 
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