Central America braces for “catastrophic” storm
November 3, 2020 - Hurricane Eta, a powerful Category 4 storm, threatens to bring floods, landslides, and a storm surge of up to six metres to Nicaragua and beyond.
Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua into much of Honduras could get 380 to 635 millimetres of rain, with 890 millimeters in isolated areas. Heavy rains also were likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.
A storm surge of up to 6 metres above normal tides was possible for the coast of Nicaragua, forecasters said.
The quantities of rain expected comparisons to 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, one of the most deadly Atlantic hurricanes in history. An archival report from the National Hurricane Center said Mitch led to the deaths of more than 9,000 people.
Eta tripled in strength in about 24 hours, rapidly intensifying from a 65km/h storm Sunday morning to a 120km/h hurricane around midday Monday, and continuing to gain power throughout the day.
It is the eighth Atlantic storm this season to hit the meteorologists’ definition for rapid intensification — a gain of 56km/h in wind speed in just 24 hours. It’s also the fifth to reach major hurricane status. Over the past couple of decades, meteorologists have been increasingly worried about storms that just blow up in strength.
Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. It’s the first time the Greek letter Eta has been used as a storm name because after the 2005 season ended, meteorologists went back and determined a storm that should have been named wasn’t.
Hurricane season still has a month to go, ending Nov. 30. In 2005, Zeta formed toward the end of December.