Stronger warn­ings, watches is­sued for Trop­i­cal Storm Iota

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - HUR­RI­CANE SEA­SON - BY MICHELLE MARCHANTE, DEVOUN CETOUTE AND HOWARD CO­HEN mmarchante@mi­ami­her­ dcetoute@mi­ami­her­ hco­hen@mi­ami­her­ Mi­ami Her­ald staff writer Alex Har­ris con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Trop­i­cal Storm Iota, which formed in the central Caribbean Sea on Fri­day, mark­ing the 30th named storm in a record-break­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son, is fore­cast to turn into a hur­ri­cane be­fore ap­proach­ing Central Amer­ica next week.

Iota was mov­ing west­south­west at 7 mph with max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter’s 7 p.m. ad­vi­sory Satur­day.

It was about 375 miles south of Kingston, Ja­maica, and about 455 miles east­south­east of Cabo Gra­cias A Dios on the Nicaragua/ Hon­duras bor­der.

A west­ward mo­tion with some in­crease in for­ward speed was ex­pected to be­gin later Satur­day and con­tinue through Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to the cen­ter.

The gov­ern­ment of Colom­bia is­sued a hur­ri­cane warn­ing for the is­land of Prov­i­den­cia.

Hur­ri­cane watches are in ef­fect for the coast of Nicaragua from the Hon­duras/ Nicaragua bor­der to Sandy Bay Sirpi, the coast of north­east­ern Hon­duras from Punta Patuca to the Hon­duras/Nicaragua bor­der and San Andres.

Trop­i­cal storm watches are in ef­fect for the north­ern coast of Hon­duras from west of Punta Patuca to Pun­taCastilla.

Trop­i­cal storm-force winds ex­tended about 105 miles from the cen­ter.

The hur­ri­cane cen­ter’s in­ter­ac­tive fore­cast track shows Iota hav­ing max­i­mum sus­tained winds of

120 mph by Mon­day when it nears the coast of Nicaragua and Hon­duras. That would make it a Cat­e­gory 3 hur­ri­cane.

Its fore­cast track is sim­i­lar to Eta’s, which hit

Nicaragua as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane last week and caused wide­spread de­struc­tion there and in neigh­bor­ing Hon­duras. About 1.2 mil­lion chil­dren have been af­fected by the storms in Central Amer­ica, UNICEF said this week.

On the fore­cast track, Iota will move across the south­west Caribbean Sea into Sun­day, pass near or over Prov­i­den­cia is­land on Mon­day and ap­proach the coasts of Nicaragua and north­east­ern Hon­duras Mon­day af­ter­noon or evening, ac­cord­ing to the hur­ri­cane cen­ter.

The NHC said it ex­pected the sys­tem to see sig­nif­i­cant strength­en­ing dur­ing the next 24 to 72 hours, enough to turn it into a ma­jor hur­ri­cane in a few days. Fore­cast­ers say the sys­tem should weaken once it is over land but that if a more north­ern track oc­curs, keep­ing it over wa­ter, it could be­come stronger.

Across Costa Rica, Panama, and north­ern Colom­bia, south­ern Nicaragua, Belize, Gu­atemala and El Sal­vador, fore­caster pre­dict 4 to 8 inches of rain, with some ar­eas pos­si­bly see­ing up to 12 inches.

“This rain­fall would lead to sig­nif­i­cant, life-threat­en­ing flash flood­ing and river flood­ing, along with land­slides in ar­eas of higher terrain,” fore­cast­ers wrote.

Ja­maica and south­ern Haiti may see 1 to 3 inches of rain, fore­cast­ers say.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter is­sued its last ad­vi­sory on Eta at 4 a.m. Fri­day and said it would move into the At­lantic’s open wa­ters, where it will be ab­sorbed by a larger non­trop­i­cal cy­clone by Satur­day night.

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