After leaving catastrophic damage across multiple nations in Central America, Hurricane Iota finally dissipated on Wednesday morning over El Salvador.
The full scope of Iota’s destruction is as yet unclear as many of the areas hardest-hit by the hurricane remain cut off from communication, but at least 13 deaths were being blamed on the storm late Wednesday morning, with many more missing.
Iota made landfall in northern Nicaragua on Monday night, November 16, as a high-end category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds. Iota came ashore about 30 miles south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua (population 40,000) – just 15 miles south of where category 4 Hurricane Eta hit on November 3 (see Tweet by Dakota Smith). Although Iota moved slightly farther from Puerto Cabezas than Eta, Iota had a larger and stronger wind field than Eta.
In an email, David Adams of Univision characterized that city as “pretty much destroyed” after the pummeling by Eta and Iota. Iota’s winds tore the roof off of the city’s makeshift hospital, Reuters reported. The area’s primary New Dawn Hospital has been unsafe to use since Hurricane Eta, according to 100% Noticias El Canal.
Heavy flooding was observed in northern Honduras, where 10.13 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at the La Ceiba airport before communications were lost (see this Facebook page for numerous videos of the flood near Trujillo in northern Honduras). The airport at San Pedro was flooded, as seen in the Tweet by J. Vidal. There are relatively few reports of damaging flooding in southern Honduras, home to the capital city of Tegucigalpa. The capital received just 1.84 inches of rain in the 36 hours ending at 7 a.m. EST Wednesday. Iota is responsible for one death in Honduras, and one death each in Panama and El Salvador, according to La Prensa.
Iota demolishes Colombia’s Providencia Island
On Monday morning, when Hurricane Iota was at category 5 strength, the storm’s southern eyewall passed over the Colombian island of Providencia (population 6,300), about 145 miles east of Nicaragua’s coast. Iota caused catastrophic damage on Providencia, destroying 80% of the homes, along with the hospital and fire station. The other 20% of the island’s homes were damaged, and 98% of the island’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed by Iota. A field hospital was being set up on Wednesday to treat the injured. At least two people on the island were reported killed as a result of the hurricane.
Iota remnants bringing additional heavy rains
Satellite imagery early Wednesday afternoon showed Iota’s remnants still generating heavy rains over Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica. According to the final advisory from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Iota, the hurricane’s remnants are expected to bring an additional 4-8 inches of rain to portions of Honduras, Guatemala, and southern Belize, with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches, Wednesday through Thursday. Over the same time span, portions of Nicaragua and El Salvador may receive an additional 2-4 inches, with isolated maximum totals of six inches.
Central America is expected to experience disturbed weather well into next week, with frequent bouts of heavy rain likely to bring an additional 2-4 inches of rain Friday through Monday to the areas hardest hit by Iota, particularly northern Honduras and central Guatemala.
Two tropical disturbances to watch this weekend
Recent runs of the GFS and European models have consistently predicted that an area of low pressure capable of developing into a tropical storm will form by Saturday over the southwestern Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Panama. However, the models were less certain about development of this disturbance in their Wednesday morning runs than they were in their Tuesday runs.
The most recent model forecasts show the disturbance developing very close to the coast of Panama by Saturday, then potentially crossing into the eastern Pacific Ocean, bringing heavy rains to the Pacific coast of Central America early next week. Panama would be at highest risk of heavy rains, with 4-8 inches of rain possible Friday through Sunday. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Kappa, the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet.
In a 1 p.m. EST Wednesday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave 2-day and 5-days odds of development of 0% and 10%, respectively, to this future disturbance.
NHC was also watching the waters off the U.S. East Coast between the Bahamas and Bermuda, where models predict that an area of low pressure capable of becoming a subtropical storm will form on Sunday or Monday. The only land area that might be threatened by this potential storm is Bermuda. The system is expected to move rapidly to the northeast past Bermuda on Monday.
In a 1 p.m. EST Wednesday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave 2-day and 5-days odds of development of 0% and 20%, respectively, to this future system.
Donations to assist hurricane victims
For those wanting to help out with charitable donations for those suffering from the hurricanes of 2020, Jeff Ernst, a reporter working in Honduras, wrote in an email that, “World Vision is doing a good job of responding to the disaster and I know several people in the local administration here and think highly of them.” Donations can be made via Hurricane Eta donation link to help out in Honduras, or through Hurriup.org, the disaster relief charity founded by members of the Weather Underground user community. Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami has tweeted out locations where donated goods can be left for Honduras relief.
Posted on November 18, 2020(2:22pm EST).