Category 5 Hurricane Iota brings catastrophic winds, floods and storm surge to Nicaragua

ORLANDO, Fla. — 6:15 p.m. update:

Iota remains a Category 5 hurricane closing in on Nicaragua on Monday evening.

The storm may hit the exact same place Eta did as a major hurricane about two weeks ago.

There is a 40% chance that another organized system could develop right behind it.

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4 p.m. update:

Iota continues inching closer to Nicaragua.

Maximum sustained winds are near 160 mph with higher gusts. Iota is forecast to continue to be a catastrophic category 5 hurricane when it approaches Central America tonight, and rapid weakening is expected after landfall.

Forecast Track

Remember the weakening will be in the winds, but the heavy rains will continue through much of the week across many parts of Central America.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles. Puerto Cabezas airport in Nicaragua recently reported sustained winds of 44 mph with a gust to 68 mph.

Catastrophic wind damage is expected where Iota’s eyewall moves onshore within the Hurricane Warning area in Nicaragua tonight with tropical storm conditions already ongoing. Hurricane conditions are likely on the island of Providencia for the next few hours.

>>Scroll down for impacts to Central America<<

Morning update:

Iota becomes a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane as it nears Nicaragua.

As of 10 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said that the hurricane holds maximum sustained winds of 160mph, and it is moving at 9mph. Pressure has come down to 917 millibars. Tropical-storm-force winds are already affecting the east coast of Nicaragua and will only start getting stronger as the day progresses.

Hurricane hunters have been investigating Iota. The system is forecast to stay moving west at 9mph through landfall, which is expected to happen later tonight.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles.

Hurricane made landfall in early November near Puerto Cabezas. Hurricane Iota is forecast to make landfall south of this area, just north of Laguna de Wouhunta, Nicaragua.

Although Iota will be losing strength as it moves over land, it is still expected to be a hurricane throughout its journey over Nicaragua.

By Tuesday night, Iota will be over Honduras, near Tegucigalpa as a tropical storm, and became a depression just before coming close to northern El Salvador on Wednesday morning.

Forecast Track

Click here to watch Terry’s updated forecast LIVE on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

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A life-threatening storm surge is expected. The water level can increase 15 to 20 feet above normal tide levels with the strong onshore winds along the Nicaragua and Honduras coast.

Catastrophic winds damage in Nicaragua, even well inland, as the system is extremely strong and will maintain hurricane status through the day on Tuesday as it slowly moves cuts over the northeastern section of Nicaragua, specifically through the Region Autónoma Atlántico Norte.

Honduras and Northern Nicaragua, southern Guatemala, and southern Belize can expect to receive up to 20 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts that could reach up to 30 inches.

Photos: Hurricane Eta lashed Central America, then Florida as a Tropical Storm

This rainfall will occur over the same areas affected by Eta. Hundreds of people were buried in landslides after Eta’s path, which caused catastrophic landslides. Hundreds of people are still living in makeshift weak shelters.

El Salvador and Panama will also get rainfall from Iota, 4 to 8 inches are possible with up to 12 inches in isolated areas.

Rivers and lakes are overflowed all over Central America, mountains are already weak from previous rains, and the ground is oversaturated. All the rain will cause extensive, and extended devastation, and likely many more deaths.

We will continue to monitor and bring you the latest on, on our free WFTV Weather App, and on Eyewitness News.

Read: What do they mean? Disturbance, depressions, tropical, subtropical storms, hurricanes

See more: 9 facts about flooding

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