Hurricane Iota continues to weaken but is causing heavy CentAm flooding

Miami, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Iota, which on Monday night made landfall in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm, on Tuesday is continuing to weaken as it moves across the Central American country, yet it is still bringing heavy rain, serious flooding and mudslides to the region, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported.

In its 10 am advisory, the NHC said that Iota is now a Cat 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and occasional stronger gusts, but it will weaken to a tropical storm by Monday afternoon and to a tropical depression by Monday night.

Iota’s eye is located about 135 miles east of Tegucigalpa, where it will arrive later on Monday before moving over El Salvador.

The hurricane, which after causing extensive damage in Nicaragua is predicted to be nothing more than a low pressure area by Wednesday, is moving to the west at 12 mph and is expected to continue along that track all day Monday.

Along the coastal strip extending from Sandy Bay Sirpi in Nicaragua to Punta Patuca in Honduras tropical storm conditions are expected to prevail.

The storm is predicted to continue to pose the danger of sudden and potentially catastrophic flooding as well as mudslides in the region for the next day or two, the NHC said.

According to the NHC, hurricane force winds extend out from Iota’s center up to 15 miles and tropical storm force winds extend outwards for up to 175 miles.

Iota, which had winds reaching up to 155 mph, tore the roofs off of homes, knocked out the electric grid and flooded dozens of streets in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coastal region.

The storm made landfall near Haulover, Nicaragua, where about 1,750 people live, most of them Miskito Indians who make their livings from fishing and handicrafts, earning a good bit of their income from tourism, but everyone was evacuated from the area before the storm hit and there are not yet any reports of damage.

The point where Iota made landfall is located 10 miles south of where Hurricane Eta, also a Cat 4 storm, made landfall on Nov. 3.

So far this season there have been 30 named tropical storms, 13 of which have become hurricanes, with six of them being major storms.

The Atlantic hurricane season – which this year has been significantly more active than normal – officially ends on Nov. 30.

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