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Iota could reach category 5 status and is expected to bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and extreme rainfall impacts.
Tropical Depression Iota developed into a category 4 hurricane while continuing its path through the Caribbean Sea towards the northeastern coast of Nicaragua and southeastern Honduras, where it is expected to hit in the afternoon or night on Monday.
Recording maximum sustained winds of about 155 kilometers per hour, hurricane Iota moves westward at 15 kilometers per hour and it is located about 175 kilometers east of Providencia island in the Colombian Caribbean Sea, and 410 kilometers southeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras.
Accumulated rainfall in both Central American countries will be in the order of 200-400 millimeters, although some isolated downpours can spill up to 750 millimeters in some areas.
Forecasts show that tidal waves triggered by hurricane Iota could produce waves of up to 4.5 meters above normal tide levels.
Nicaragua's National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Response (SINAPRED) reported that at least 1,500 people have been evacuated from risk areas, especially from the municipalities of Wasmpan and the Misquito Cays, off the Nicaraguan coast.
Authorities in Panama declared the highest level of alert in the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro, and the country's largest Indigenous region, while the rest of the country was placed under a preventive alert level.
Meanwhile, torrential rains unleashed by Hurricane Iota have already caused landslides in several Colombian regions where authorities have declared an alert warning for the San Andres archipelago.
Central America was affected by the passage of Tropical Storm Eta last week, which left at least one hundred dead people as a result of heavy flooding and landslides. On November 9, downgraded hurricane Eta made landfall as a tropical storm in the south of the U.S State of Florida.
The 2020 hurricane season has already reported 13 hurricanes.