Exceeding even the most aggressive forecasts from Friday, Iota became the strongest and most rapidly intensifying hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Deepening an incredible 61 mb in 24 hours, Iota was declared a category-5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph as of 10AM EST, Monday November 16. Northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras will endure the brunt of destructive winds and storm surge of 15-20 feet above mean high tide levels during landfall which will take place late on Monday. Iota will track over the same region devastated by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago, where inland rainfall in excess of two feet resulted in wide scale damaging and life threatening flooding. Unfortunately, as Iota decays over Central America mid-week, another round of excessive rainfall in excess of two feet, again, will likely render another bout of significant to potentially catastrophic impacts.
- Iota is the latest category-5 hurricane in Atlantic records, surpassing the 1932 Cuba Hurricane which reached category-5 on November 8, 1932.
- The only hurricanes to intensify more rapidly than Hurricane Iota, in known Atlantic records, are Hurricane Gilbert (1988), Hurricane Rita (2005) and Hurricane Wilma (2005).
- In Atlantic basin history, the storm name starting with the letter “I” has been retired most frequently at 11 times. Iota will also be retired, with the name Iota 2020. Greek alphabet letter storms cannot be retired under current World Meteorological Organization guidelines.
- Before this month, Nicaragua in known records had four category 4+ hurricanes make landfall. November 2020 adds two with Eta and Iota.
- Iota is the strongest hurricane this late in the Atlantic basin, eclipsing Hurricane Lenny (1999) which had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph on November 16, a high-end category-4 hurricane.
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