NOAA: Category 5 Hurricane Iota Track, Spaghetti Models

NOAA: Category 5 Hurricane Iota Track, Spaghetti Models

The NHC says that before it makes landfall, Iota could turn into a category five hurricane, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson wind strength scale.

"Iota is forecast to be an extremely unsafe Category 4 hurricane when it approaches Central America", the NHC warned.

Rapid strengthening is expected to take place during the next 24 hours, and Iota is forecast to be an extremely unsafe category four hurricane when it approaches Central America.

At 10 a.m. EST on Monday, the center of Hurrricane Iota was located over the southwest Caribbean Sea about 40 miles west of Isla De Proviidencia, Columbia, and about 100 miles southeast of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Nicaragua / Honduras border, and moving toward the west near 9 mph.

A hurricane hunter aircraft has found that the storm's maximum sustained winds have increased to near 155 miles per hour with higher gusts, making it a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

It became a risky Category 3 hurricane early Monday, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned it would probably reach Category 4 strength as it approached the Central America mainland late Monday.

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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.

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Iota is forecast to make landfall in Central America, likely in Nicaragua, as a Major Hurricane and Iota would be the second major hurricane to form this November.

In Honduras, compulsory evacuations began before the weekend and by Sunday evening 63,500 people were reported to be in 379 shelters just in the northern region, while the whole country was on high alert.

In the Nicaraguan coastal city of Bilwi, residents were desperately trying to secure roofs of flimsy wooden homes with the same zinc sheets ripped off by Eta.

The storm comes as Central America is still coping with the enormous destruction wrought by Eta, which slammed into the region two weeks ago, causing flooding and mudslides that have killed scores of people from Panama to southern Mexico.

Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings are also in effect for surrounding areas.

"Catastrophic" wind damage is expected where Iota's eye comes onshore, the hurricane center said, and hurricane conditions will reach Central America by tonight.

A storm surge could increase water levels by up to 13 feet (4 metres) in Nicaragua and Honduras.

The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has Iota making landfall near Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, by Monday night. Remnants of Theta, the 29th, dissipated Sunday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

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