Hurricane Iota powers up in new threat to Central America

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Hurricane Iota is steadily strengthening and is moving through the West Caribbean to become a very severe Category 4 system, while the same Central American story was battered about a week earlier by the equally strong Hurricane Eta.

Evacuations from low-lying zones in Nicaragua and Honduras were performed along their common boundary, which seemed to be the probable landfall of Iota.

On the Nicaraguan coast on Sunday night there were already winds and rain.

Early Sunday, Iota became a hurricane and gathered strength quickly and was predicted to spend the night in or around Colombia's Providencia island.

Early Monday, and the United States, it was a dangerous Category 3 storm.

The National Hurricane Center, which reaches Central America at late Monday, warned of potentially hitting power in Category 4.

At the Hurricane Center Iota said that the winds at the start of Monday were up to 125 mph (205 kph).

It was about 190 kilometers east-south-east of Cabo Gracias a Dios at the boundary between Nicaragua and Honduras and walked west at 10 miles/minutes (17 kph).

The 30th storm of the exceptionally active Atlantic Hurricane season was still a record-breaking system.

This has centered on climate change, which experts believe adds to temperature, storm and damage.

Compulsory evacuations started in Honduras before the weekend and 63.500 people in 379 shelters in the northern part of Honduras by Sunday evening, when the entire nation was warned.

Nicaraguan officials said that some 1,500 civilians, almost half of them youngsters, were evacuated to the northeast of the country, including all the inhabitants of Cayo Misquitos, by late Sunday afternoon.

83,000 residents in this area have been said to be at risk by the authorities.

Wind and rain started Sunday evening in Bilwi, Nicaragua's coastal city where citizens crowded markets and hardware stores for their houses, as they did during Hurricane Eta's strike on November 3, in pursuit of plastic sheeting, nails and other materials.

Several Bilwi residents voiced their concern that too quickly after Eta, they were not going to stand up to Iota.

Local TV shows residents rescued by wooden boats carrying girls, dogs and chickens.

Authorities have cautioned about the threats that Iota is potentially on the shore over regions that have been flooded by Eta's torrential rains which are more vulnerable to fresh ground and flooding.

Eta wrought mayhem already.

He struck Nicaragua as a Category 4 Hurricane and killed at least 120 people in areas of Central America and Mexico because of torrential rains.

It then roamed through and down Cuba, Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico before again slogging around the coasts of Cedar Key, Florida.

In northern Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Belize, Iota has been projected to decrease 8 to 16 centimeters (200-400 millimetres), with as many as thirty inches (750 millimeters) in secluded areas.

The hurricane center also reported that Costa Rica and Panama could encounter heavy rain and probable floods.

Eta was the 28th hurricane storm designated this year, matching a previous 2005 for the hurricanes that have been labeled.

The 29th Theta was in the East Atlantic Ocean, which became a low Sunday remaining. The 29th.

Hurricane season formally ends 30 November.

This article was contributed by Associated Press writer Marlon González, Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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