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Costa Rican authorities detail damage, costs of hurricane influence

November 17, 2020

Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) and National Meteorological Institute (IMN) on Tuesday detailed the damages and costs provoked by the two major hurricanes that have made landfall in Central America this month.

According to CNE president Alexander Solís, Hurricane Eta affected 440 communities and an estimated 330,000 people in Costa Rica earlier in November. A landslide in Coto Brus killed two people, and 250 others were hospitalized in relation to the system.

During Hurricane Eta’s indirect influence on Costa Rica, the CNE established 77 shelters which temporarily housed 1,400 people whose homes were at-risk.

The National Roadway Council (CONAVI) reported nearly $15 million in damages to Costa Rica’s road infrastructure, citing 79 spots that experienced damage. Meanwhile, the CNE says it spent about $490,000 coordinating first-response efforts and has allocated $1.1 million to municipal governments.

The financial costs of Eta in Costa Rica will grow after the impact on agriculture is calculated, and Solís added that not all infrastructure damage has been fully assessed.

Iota’s impact on Costa Rica is smaller

According to IMN director Werner Stolz, Hurricane Iota’s faster overland speed means the storm is having a lesser influence on Costa Rica compared to Eta. Still, much of the country is experiencing ongoing rainfall that may cause damages.

Tuesday afternoon, Stolz said parts of the Nicoya Peninsula had received up to 160 mm of rainfall related to Iota. Rains will continue Tuesday throughout the Pacific regions with more isolated showers on Wednesday.

The CNE advised that Costa Rica’s soils remain saturated, which could result in more landslides, flooding and infrastructure impacts.

Iota downgraded to Tropical Storm

As predicted by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Iota weakened quickly after making landfall in Nicaragua on Monday night.

Despite the lower wind speeds, meteorologists warned of ongoing hazards while the system moves west across Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador before dissipating.

“Life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding is expected through Thursday across portions of Central America due to heavy rainfall from Iota,” the NHC said. “Flooding and mudslides across portions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala could be exacerbated by Hurricane Etas recent effects there, resulting in significant to potentially catastrophic impacts.”

The NHC does not expect Iota to re-form in the Pacific Ocean.

Another system may form this weekend

NHC is tracking a disturbance in the Caribbean Sea with a 30% chance of cyclone formation within the next five days.

“Environmental conditions do not appear to be as conducive for development as once thought, but slow development is possible over the next several days while the system
moves slowly westward or west-southwestward across the southwestern Caribbean Sea,” the Miami-based organization said.

“Regardless of tropical cyclone formation, areas of heavy rain are possible during the next several days from Nicaragua southward across Central America and into Colombia.”

The IMN and CNE said they’re tracking the disturbance and have predicted rainfall throughout Costa Rica this weekend.

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