Iota is expected to continue heading west and make landfall somewhere in Central America, potentially near the Honduras-Nicaragua border by late Monday or early Tuesday, CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said.
The storm is forecast to be at or near major hurricane strength prior to making landfall across Central America, according to the NHC. A major hurricane is a hurricane with winds of at least 111 mph.
Parts of Nicaragua and Honduras could receive torrential rain totals of 2 to 3 feet, along with life-threatening storm surge.
Besides delivering damaging winds, Iota could drop 8 to 16 inches of rain on Honduras, northern Nicaragua, eastern Guatemala and southern Belize through Thursday, the NHC said — unwelcome news for a region pummeled by Hurricane Eta last week.
Costa Rica, Panama, and northern Colombia could receive 4 to 8 inches of rain through Thursday, while El Salvador and southern Nicaragua could get 2 to 4 inches in the same period, the NHC said.
Colombia’s government on Saturday issued a tropical storm warning for the islands of San Andres and Providencia.
“This rainfall (from Iota) would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the NHC said.
Central America devastated by Hurricane Eta
Even before the storm, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala had poor public health systems that were struggling against Covid-19.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Matt Rivers, Natalie Gallón and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.