Hurricane Iota has strengthened into a “catastrophic” Category 5 monster – the highest level — as it moves toward Central America, where it is forecast to make landfall along the Nicaragua-Honduras border late Monday, officials said.
The hurricane, which is packing maximum sustained winds of 160 mph, would “bring catastrophic wind, life-threatening storm surge and torrential rainfall,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
Iota, the first Category 5 storm this hurricane season, was moving at about 9 mph when it was located about 100 miles east-southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, around noon, CNN reported.
It is forecast to dump up to 20 inches of rain, with isolated maximum totals of 30 inches possible, in addition to a life-threatening storm surge of as much as 20 feet, the NHC said in its latest advisory.
Costa Rica and Panama should see about 4 to 8 inches of rainfall, with totals of 12 inches possible in some locations.
The deluge will “lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with mudslides in areas of higher terrain,” the advisory said.
This Atlantic hurricane season has seen the most named storms on record, with 30 named storms and 13 hurricanes, according to AFP.