Iota strengthened to the 13th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season overnight as it headed Sunday toward Honduras and Nicaragua, both still reeling from Hurricane Eta's destruction.
Hurricane Iota formed with just two weeks left in the busiest Atlantic hurricane season on record, and it was forecast to bring potentially life-threatening winds and storm surges. Hurricane watches and warnings were in effect along the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua.
The storm was moving across the southwest Caribbean Sea on Sunday and was expected to pass over or near the island of Providencia on Monday. It should approach Central America on Monday evening.
Its winds had already reached about 100 mph, and "rapid strengthening is expected during the next day or two," the National Hurricane Center said. Honduras and Nicaragua should expect it to be a major hurricane upon landfall, the forecasters said.
Parts of northeast Nicaragua and northern Honduras might get as much as 20 to 30 inches of rain, the center said.
Hurricane Eta just ripped the region Tuesday as a Category 4 storm, bringing torrential rains, catastrophic flooding and devastating landslides. Preliminary figures show that Eta, the strongest storm to ravage the region since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, has killed at least 58 people in Honduras. The storm then barreled toward Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday night.
Iota is the 30th named storm of 2020.