Hurricane Iota is now a category five Hurricane which is quickly closing in on Nicaragua. Iota is expected to bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and torrential rainfall to Central America. Thirteen days ago Nicaragua was hit by category four storm Eta before tearing a wide path of destruction through Honduras and Guatemala. Iota is southeast of Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua and four hundred and fifty miles from Belize. Belize is expected to get ten to twenty inches of water which will compound the flooding situation from the remnant of Hurricane Eta. Chief meteorological officer, Ronald Gordon briefed the media on the path of Iota.
Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorological Officer: “The hurricane was centered near latitude 13.6 degrees north, longitude 82.7 degrees west and that puts it about 55 miles east south east of Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua and in terms of the distance from Belize that’s about 450 miles south east of Belize City. Iota was moving to the west at 9mph with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour that, that makes Iota a powerfully dangerous category five hurricane on the Saffir Simpson hurricane wind scale. The forecast for this hurricane is for it to continue moving to the west and maintain intensity as a category five and then make landfall over north eastern Nicaragua tonight. After landfall the hurricane will rapidly weaken as it moves over land and eventually dissipate around midweek over the rugged terrains of Central America somewhere over Honduras near the border with El Salvador. This system will impact Belize and the major impact will be rainfall. We are expecting at least ten inches of rainfall over the country that’s total rainfall for the week from Hurricane Iota as it tracks across Central America. These rainfalls coupled with the rains that we already got from Hurricane Eta will compound the flooding situation over various parts of the country. Our soils are already saturated and with additional rainfall we can expect more flooding. The highest rainfall totals we expect will occur over southern Belize from this system where you can have upwards of ten inches and possible twenty inches in extreme scenarios. In terms of the impact from wind we are expecting winds to increase and become strong and gusty starting tonight but becoming more so into Tuesday night into Wednesday. Our forecast is suggesting winds of about 20-25 knots which could be dangerous especially for operators of small crafts so similar to what we had with the previous hurricane we are issuing a small craft warning meaning that operators of small crafts should remain in safe harbor for the duration of the storm. So to repeat the major impacts will be rainfall and flooding but we’ll also have some impacts wind that would be a threat mostly to mariners.”
The media spoke with the new Minister of Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet who indicated that he is in regular communication with NEMO’s Coordinator Sheldon Defore.
Orlando Habet, Minister of Disaster Risk Management: “We are aware of this hurricane that’s posing a threat to our part of Central America and as we have been informed at least the south might be affected with some heavy rainfall – right now they’re thinking somewhere between eight to sixteen inches of rain in the south so our people will have to be activated and as a matter of fact I had called on Major Defore a few days ago and he has his team already activated and they’re looking out for what response is needed in that department.”
The National Emergency Management Organization issued advisory number four stating, quote, “despite the current track, the public is advised to be prepared to take actions that could save lives, such as, informing vulnerable family members of the impending threat, clear drains, trim trees, secure your home, purchase necessary survival items (food, water, medication), secure important documents, among others. When a storm is approaching always be prepared to evacuate to a safe building or shelter, store water, charge cell phones before landfall, and keep some form of emergency lighting, first aid kit (bandages, rubbing alcohol, ointments etc.) and tools, close by.” End of quote. Amid the current preparations Love News understands that assessments continue on the damages caused by Hurricane Eta as flood waters are only just beginning to recede significantly in the Cayo, Belize and Stann Creek districts.