A hurricane warning is in effect for Providencia, the Nicaraguan coast from the Honduras / Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi, as well as the Honduran coast from Punta Patuca to the border with Nicaragua, according to NHC.
The storm is expected to pass near or over Providencia Island on Monday, causing hurricane conditions as it targets Nicaraguan and Honduran coasts.
Hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings are also in effect for surrounding areas.
“Preparations to protect life and property must be rushed to completion,” said the advisory.
Heavy rains could lead to flooding and landslides
Once the storm makes landfall, it is expected to move west and southwest across Central America.
Rainfall accumulations across the region are expected to be high, with Honduras, northern Nicaragua, Guatemala, southern Belize seeing between eight and sixteen inches and isolated amounts of 20 to 30 inches possible in northeast Nicaragua. and northern Honduras, according to the advisory.
Costa Rica and Panama are also expected to see around four to eight inches, with totals of 12 inches possible in some areas.
Such amounts of rain “will cause flash floods and significant and potentially fatal flooding, as well as landslides in areas of higher ground,” the advisory warned.
The storm surge forecast along the Nicaraguan and Honduran coasts will be accompanied by “big, destructive waves”, as well as swells that cause “potentially fatal surf and tear conditions,” according to the NHC.
Swells will be felt from Central America to the Yucatan Peninsula as far east as Jamaica and south to Colombia.
Central America still recovering from Eta
Iota will be the second major hurricane to hit the region in as many weeks. On November 3, Hurricane Eta made landfall as a Category 4 storm, causing landslides and flooding that displaced thousands of people and left dozens dead or missing.
It is the 13th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which has left its mark as a historic season bringing 30 named storms – the most ever seen.
More than 3.6 million people in Central America have been affected by the storm to varying degrees, the Red Cross said earlier this week.
While the extent of Eta’s damage won’t be known for some time, the powerful storm, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, can have impacts that last for years.
The storm loomed over Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala for days, with heavy rains creating floods and landslides that swept entire communities across the map.
Dozens of people in the remote Guatemalan village of San Cristobal are still missing after a landslide that swept through last week, leaving mud 15 meters deep in some places.
CNN’s Robert Shackelford and Gene Norman contributed to this report.