Hurricane Eta strengthens, could hit Nicaragua as Category 4 storm
(Reuters) - Powerful Hurricane Eta gathered strength quickly on Monday as it rumbled closer to Nicaragua and Honduras, which it was expected to pound with devastating winds and rains overnight, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. The storm, forecast to become a fierce Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was expected to strike the northeast coast of Nicaragua and neighboring areas of eastern Honduras by early Tuesday, the Miami-based NHC said
(Reuters) - Powerful Hurricane Eta gathered strength quickly on Monday as it rumbled closer to Nicaragua and Honduras, which it was expected to pound with devastating winds and rains overnight, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The storm, forecast to become a fierce Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, was expected to strike the northeast coast of Nicaragua and neighboring areas of eastern Honduras by early Tuesday, the Miami-based NHC said.
Through Friday evening, Eta's rains will cause "catastrophic, life threatening" flash flooding and landslides in Central America, the NHC said. Jamaica, southern Haiti, the Cayman Islands, El Salvador and southern Mexico may also be hit.
Eta, which had become a Category 2 storm by mid-morning, is poised to be one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Nicaragua in years, and may test President Daniel Ortega, who presides over one of the poorest countries in the Americas.
The government is on high alert. It has evacuated some coastal communities and sent in supplies to help residents prepare for the storm's impact, state-run media said.
In Honduras, the government has placed five Atlantic coast regions on red alert, its highest warning, and evacuations were underway, local authorities said.
According to the latest NHC forecast, Eta could reach land packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour (225 kilometers per hour). Once the storm clatters into the mountains of Nicaragua and Honduras, it should weaken rapidly.
By mid-morning Monday, Eta was 115 miles (185 km) east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Nicaragua-Honduras border, churning west at 9 mph (14 kph) and blowing sustained winds of 110 mph (177 kph), the NHC said.
Eta is the 28th named tropical storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, tying an all-time record set in 2005, the NHC's Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch said.
Eta could dump 15-25 inches (381-640 mm) of rain on central and northern Nicaragua and much of Honduras, with up to 35 inches (889 mm) in some areas, the NHC said.
(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)
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