The National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Friday afternoon announced the formation of Tropical Storm Iota in the Central Caribbean Sea.
The system is expected to threaten Central America and make landfall as a “major hurricane” on Sunday night or Monday morning. Forecasts indicate northern Nicaragua and/or southern Honduras could bear the brunt of Iota.
“Through Wednesday morning, heavy rainfall from Iota may lead to life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions of Haiti, Jamaica and Central America,” the NHC advised.
“Flooding and landslides from heavy rainfall could be significant across Central America given recovery efforts underway after Hurricane Eta.”
Iota is the 30th named storm of an already record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. It is expected to strengthen quickly and reach hurricane designation within 36 hours.
“The environment ahead of Iota appears to be quite conducive for intensification,” the NHC says. “The system will be moving over warm waters, in a moist atmosphere, and within an area of very low vertical wind shear. As a result, steady to rapid strengthening appears likely over the next few days.”
The National Meteorological Institute (IMN) of Costa Rica predicts indirect influence from Iota beginning Saturday afternoon. Residents of the Central and South Pacific should expect heavy rainfall. The NHC indicates northern parts of Costa Rica could experience tropical storm-level winds.
Authorities in Honduras issued a Red Alert for the entire national territory. In Guatemala, CONRED advised residents to pack evacuation kits and review family emergency plans.
Hurricane Eta made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 Hurricane earlier this month. That cyclone caused an estimated 200 deaths in the region, and much of Central America is only just beginning recovery efforts following major infrastructure damages.