The National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced Monday morning that Iota has strengthened into a “catastrophic” Category 5 hurricane.
Iota becomes the second recorded Category 5 hurricane ever to occur in November, according to the Weather Channel.
Iota is expected to remain a Category 5 system until it makes landfall in northeastern Nicaragua on Monday night.
“Extreme winds and a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the coast of northeastern Nicaragua,” the U.S.-based meteorological organization said. “Life-threatening flash flooding is also expected in Central America.”
A Category 5 hurricane signifies maximum sustained winds of 157 mph or higher. It is the highest designation for a hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
During a Category 5 hurricane, “catastrophic damage will occur.”
“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse,” the NHC explains. “Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
Much of the area forecast to be impacted by Iota was significantly damaged by Hurricane Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane just two weeks ago.
“Iota is a very impressive hurricane, especially for this late in the year,” the NHC said, indicating that additional strengthening may occur Monday.
“This is a catastrophic situation unfolding for northeastern Nicaragua with an extreme storm surge of 15-20 ft forecast along with destructive winds and potentially 30 inches of rainfall, and it is exacerbated by the fact that it should make landfall in almost the exact same location that category 4 Hurricane Eta did about two weeks ago.”