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Costa Rica
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hurricane Eta reaches Category 4; Nicaragua prepares for ‘catastrophic’ damage

Eta is now a Category 4 hurricane that will cause “catastrophic” wind damage when it makes landfall in Nicaragua, the National Hurricane Center says.

“Catastrophic wind damage is expected where Eta’s eyeball moves onshore along the northeastern coast of Nicaragua tonight or early Tuesday,” the U.S.-based NHC said Monday in its 3 p.m. CST update.

A “catastrophic and life-threatening” storm surge could reach 18 feet above normal tide levels.

Costa Rica is experiencing indirect effects of Hurricane Eta, and heavy rainfall has already provoked floods and landslides.

Werner Stolz of the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) on Monday afternoon provided a Costa Rica-specific update on Hurricane Eta, which we have translated into English below:

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The IMN began tracking of Hurricane Eta on Friday, and since then we’ve activated our protocol for protecting citizens in the event of extreme meteorological events. 

Since Friday, we are closely following this hurricane, which is very close to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. We can see the hurricane is on the western side of the Caribbean Sea, approximately 150 km from the coast of Nicaragua. 

It has intensified quickly. It’s a Category 3, and the fast intensification is due to the warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea. In Costa Rica, we have abundant cloud cover and rain.  

The system will directly impact the Caribbean Coasts of Nicaragua. We expect it to make landfall as a Category 3, and this direct impact will occur tomorrow at around 4-5 a.m. Costa Rica time (CST). It will impact the entire north of Nicaragua and then will move — as a tropical depression — over Honduras. It is expected to then go back out over the Caribbean Sea and advance toward the western portion of Cuba. 

We are now seeing the indirect effects of this hurricane on Costa Rica. Yesterday’s rains were intermittent throughout the day. Accumulations of rain of 140 mm in 24 hours are expected today, Tuesday and probably Wednesday.

The rainfall has been in the South and Central Pacific. Yesterday, in the Central Valley we had strong rain throughout the day. In the Northern Zone, we’ve had instances of heavy rain in Ciudad Quesada and North Caribbean. 

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The National Emergency Commission (CNE) says dozens of people, primarily from the South and Central Pacific, have been evacuated from their homes due to flooding or landslides.

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