Hurricane Eta strengthens to category 4 storm as it threatens Central America

A powerful storm, packing catastrophic winds and a potentially deadly storm surge, has been upgraded to category four hurricane as it barrels toward the eastern coast of Central America, authorities said Monday.

The storm, which has sustained winds of 130 mph, is expected to ram into the coast of Nicaragua Monday night or Tuesday morning, potentially causing landslides and flash floods, the National Hurricane Center said in a 4 p.m. update.

“Water is a serious concern with #Eta,” the agency wrote in a tweet.

“Storm surge could be as high as 12-18 feet above normal tide levels along the #Nicaragua coast, and rainfall could be up to 35″ for portions of Central America. Both hazards are likely to cause catastrophic damage,” they added.

Eta is expected to dump as much as 35 inches of rain on isolated parts of Nicaragua, while the rest of the country and Honduras could see about 25 inches, the Hurricane Center said in the statement.

Guatemala and Belize could also see about 20 inches of rain as the storm cuts across the region throughout the week.

“This rainfall will lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain of Central America. Flash flooding and river flooding are also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands,” the National Hurricane Center added.

Eta is the 28th named storm of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, tying a record for the number of storms set 15 years ago.

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