In a one-two punch, Hurricane Iota roared ashore as a dangerous Category 4 storm along almost exactly the same stretch of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast that was devastated by an equally powerful Hurricane Eta 13 days earlier, the AP reports. Iota had intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm during the day Monday, but the US National Hurricane Center said it weakened slightly as it neared the coast late Monday and made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 155mph; its storm surge could reach 15 to 20 feet above normal tides. It hit the coast about 30 miles south of the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, also known as Bilwi. People hunkered down in Bilwi even before the hurricane arrived, already battered by screeching winds and torrential rains. Iota came ashore just 15 miles south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3, also as a Category 4 storm.
Eta’s torrential rains saturated the soil in the region, leaving it prone to new deadly landslides and floods, forecasters warned. “The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Iota is making landfall in almost the exact same location that category 4 Hurricane Eta did a little less than two weeks ago,” the Hurricane Center said in a statement. Eta killed more than 130 people in the region as torrential rains caused flash floods and mudslides in parts of Central America and Mexico. “This hurricane is definitely worse” than Eta, said one university student from Bilwi. “There are already a lot of houses that lost their roofs, fences and fruit trees that got knocked down. We will never forget this year." Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season. It’s also the ninth storm to rapidly intensify this season, a dangerous phenomenon that is happening increasingly more often.
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