Iota strengthens into hurricane; 13th of Atlantic season

National News

Residents wade through a flooded road in the aftermath of Hurricane Eta in Planeta, Honduras, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. The storm that hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday had become more of a vast tropical rainstorm, but it was advancing so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America remained on high alert. (AP Photo/Delmer Martinez)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Iota became the thirteenth hurricane of the Atlantic season early Sunday, threatening to bring another dangerous system to Nicaragua and Honduras — countries recently clobbered by a Category 4 Hurricane Eta.

Iota was already a record-breaking system, being the 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season. Such activity has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Sunday that Iota had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. It was centered about 295 miles east of Isla de Providencia, Colombia, and was moving west at 5 mph.

Providencia and parts of Nicaragua and Honduras were under hurricane warnings, forecasters said.

Iota threatened to wreak more havoc in a region where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Eta. That system hit Nicaragua just over a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane, killing at least 120 people as torrential rains brought flash floods and landslides to parts of Central America and Mexico. Then it meandered across Cuba, the Florida Keys and around the Gulf of Mexico before slogging ashore again near Cedar Key, Florida, and dashing across Florida and the Carolinas.

Eta was the 28th named storm of this year’s hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. Theta, the 29th, was weakening over the far eastern Atlantic Ocean. It was expected to become a remnant low by Sunday morning, forecasters said.

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