Hurricane Iota has strengthened into a category 5 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“Extreme winds and a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the coast of northeastern Nicaragua,” the National Hurricane Center tweeted Monday morning. “Life-threatening flash flooding is also expected in Central America.”
“Iota is expected to remain a catastrophic category 5 hurricane when it approaches the coast of Nicaragua tonight,” the NHC said, in a note. “Extreme winds and a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the coast of northeastern Nicaragua, where a hurricane warning is in effect.”
Iota is approaching the same part of Central America battered by a similarly powerful Hurricane Eta just over a week ago.
Evacuations were being conducted from low-lying areas in Nicaragua and Honduras near their shared border, which appeared to be Iota’s likely landfall. Winds and rain were already being felt on the Nicaraguan coast Sunday night.
In a 10 a.m. note, the NHC explained the hurricane is about 40 miles west of Isla de Providencia in Colombia and about 100 miles east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua. The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 160 mph.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Providencia, the coast of Nicaragua from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi and the coast of northeastern Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border.