Hurricane Iota Hits Nicaragua

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Greg Wang, Staff Writer

Hurricane Iota slammed into Nicaragua on Nov. 16 at 10:40 p.m. as a Category Four hurricane. Iota originated in the western Caribbean sea. It then rapidly intensified and reached Category Five, which was then downgraded into a Category Four once the storm made landfall. The hurricane managed to sustain winds of 155 miles per hour, just short of the 157 necessary to be categorized as a Category Five hurricane.

The hurricane cut its way through Nicaragua, starting from the city of Bilwi. The storm tore through power lines and destroyed most houses in its path, completely cutting the city off from contact with the rest of the world. Many residents attempted to reinforce their roofs to bear the brunt of the storm, with little success. The hurricane tore the corrugated metal away, leveling houses, hospitals, and most structures. Worse still were the torrential rains the hurricane brought, with some areas getting as much as 30 inches of rain. After cutting a swath of destruction through Nicaragua, the weakened storm passed through Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and eventually dissipated into a tropical depression.

Hurricane Iota devastated Nicaragua just two weeks after Hurricane Eta had hit. Residents recovering from the first hurricane were left with a scene of destruction. Eta had torn up bridges and power lines, crippling Nicaragua’s infrastructure. The hurricane saturated the soil of the region, causing several mudslides and floods. After the first hurricane, Iota struck just 15 miles south of where Eta’s center had passed through, triggering more mudslides and floods. The people living in the area had already been struggling to recover from the damage Hurricane Eta had caused. However, rather than bending back towards Florida like Hurricane Eta, Iota continued to push through Nicaragua.

“We’re almost all here,” said Yasmina Wriedt, who works in a small fishing organization. “Neither the army nor the government came to move us.”

The residents of the area had been scrambling to repair their houses after Hurricane Eta. People hammered sheets of metal onto their roofs and boarded up their windows to mitigate the damage that Iota caused. The shelters in Bilwi were already packed after the first hurricane, and many were forced to evacuate. Onlookers said that the little that remained could be razed, as very few structures were left standing after Iota.

Scientists blame the intensity of the hurricanes on climate change, which has affected the number of hurricanes that occur each season. The recent hurricanes also broke records for their rapid increases in intensity, with Iota’s wind speed increasing 70 miles per hour in a day. If climate change continues to get worse, then so would these hurricanes.

 

Photo courtesy of ABCNEWS.COM