Tropical Storm Iota should strengthen into a major hurricane by the time it smashes into the jungles of the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua and Honduras on Monday, a region still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Eta.
Iota formed on Friday afternoon, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said it could be blowing winds of up to 120 miles per hour (193 kph) when it collides with Central America, two weeks after Eta battered the area.
“Flooding and landslides from heavy rainfall could be significant across Central America given recovery efforts under way after Hurricane Eta,” the NHC said.
Eta sparked floods and mudslides that killed scores of people across a huge swathe of terrain stretching from Panama to southern Mexico.
No area was harder hit than the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, where a mountain partly collapsed onto the village of Queja, killing and burying alive dozens of residents.
At 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) Iota was about 335 miles (539 km) south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica packing maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (64 kph) It was moving at a slow 3 mph (5 kph) in a west-southwest direction.