An Iota could follow Eta's deadly path

An Iota could follow Eta's deadly path

Saturday, November 14, 2020

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ST PETERSBURG, Fla (AP) — Just as the remnants of Eta finally blew out to sea on Friday, another storm formed that could follow its path of death and destruction into Central America this weekend.

Hurricane experts were closely watching the Caribbean, where Tropical Storm Iota formed yesterday afternoon.

Forecasters warned that Iota could power up quickly, to major hurricane strength, as it approaches Central America late Sunday or Monday, and wreak more havoc in a region where people are still grappling with the aftermath of Eta.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Iota could bring dangerous wind, storm surge and as much as 30 inches (76 centimetres) of rainfall to northern Nicaragua and Honduras.

The storm was located about 335 miles (540 kilometres) south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica late yesterday and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph).

Iota is a record-setting 30th named storm of this year's extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season.

This extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

The NHC said Eta's remnants would pick up forward speed in the next day or so as it pulls away from the south-east seaboard.

Eta also triggered flash flooding, water rescues and at least one bridge collapse in South Carolina, said Sandy LaCorte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville, South Carolina.

Eta hit Nicaragua last week 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.

The Tampa Bay area was buffeted with gusty winds and rain, and there was one US death linked to Eta: In Bradenton Beach, Mark Mixon stepped into his flooded garage as he was laying sandbags around his home Wednesday evening and was electrocuted.

Earlier, fire fighters in Tampa had to rescue around a dozen people who got stuck in storm surge flooding on a boulevard adjacent to the bay. Some vehicles remained on the roadway Thursday. Isolated neighbourhoods also experienced enough flooding to evacuate.

Several sail boats broke free from their moorings and washed ashore in Gulfport, Florida, including the vessel where Mo Taggart has lived for two years with her dog. She thinks the boat is a total loss.

“I mean, it was disaster,” Taggart said. “I mean, I came out here. My boat is just up against the seawall, just smashing, smashing ... I need to get another boat. I want to be back on the water, (my dog) wants to be back on the water.”

Eta was the 28th named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. Theta, the 29th, was south-south-east of the Azores, and moving east with top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) late yesterday.

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