No deaths were reported in Nicaragua as of late Tuesday morning, according to the country’s disaster management agency. In several cities in the Rivas region, a strip of land between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean in the nation’s southwest, authorities are monitoring rivers and placing vulnerable families in shelters, the agency said.
30 inches of rain forecast in some locales
Still packing winds of 75 mph as of 10 a.m. ET, the storm was in northern Nicaragua, about 135 miles east of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, the hurricane center said.
It will continue inland into Nicaragua on Tuesday morning and afternoon before moving into southern Honduras late Tuesday. Iota should dissipate near El Salvador by Wednesday night, the center said.
Heavy rainfall from the storm has pushed in, with Honduras and large portions of Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize expecting at least 10 inches and up to 30 inches of rain through Thursday, while El Salvador to Panama can expect 4 to 8, with isolated maximums of 12 inches.
“Swells generated by Iota will affect much of the coast of Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula during the next day or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Colombian Islands feel the first impacts
San Andres and Providencia have been part of Colombia for centuries but are geographically closer to Central America than to the Colombian mainland.
At least one person is dead on Providencia and 90% of the island’s infrastructure has been affected by Iota, Duque said. The local airport is also unusable because of debris.
“It’s the first time that a Category 5 hurricane has reached our territory since records began,” Duque said from Bogota. “We are facing an issue with characteristics never before witnessed by our country.”
Central America still recovering from Eta
More than 3.6 million people across Central America have been affected by the storm to varying degrees, the Red Cross said earlier this week.
While the full extent of the damage from Eta won’t be known for a while, the powerful storm, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, may have effects that last for years.
The storm hovered for days over Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, with heavy rains creating flooding and landslides that wiped out entire communities.
Dozens of people in the remote Guatemalan village of San Cristobal remain missing after a landslide swept through last week, leaving mud 50 feet deep in some places.
CNN’s Hollie Silverman, Gene Norman and Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.