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Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters released time-lapse video of their second pass through the eye of Hurricane Eta on Nov. 3.

Accuweather

Story Highlights

  • Rainfall from the storm could lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding in Central America.
  • Hurricane watches are likely to be posted for portions of Central America by Friday night.
  • Iota is the record 30th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Iota formed Friday afternoon in the central Caribbean Sea, the National Hurricane Center said. The system is expected to strengthen and approach Central America as a major Category 3 hurricane by early next week.

Once the storm nears Central America, it “has the potential to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain with a focus across northern Nicaragua and Honduras,” the Hurricane Center said. “This rainfall would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain.”

Iota is the record 30th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.

Several Central American countries are still reeling from Hurricane Eta, which killed at least 120 people and left scores missing when it hit earlier this month.  

“I am greatly concerned we may soon have another major disaster on our hands in Central America if this Caribbean tropical system pans out like we suspect,” AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.

More: When will this relentless Atlantic hurricane season finally end?

Hurricane watches are likely to be posted for portions of Central America by Friday night, the Weather Channel said. 

As of 4 p.m. ET, the storm had winds of 40 mph and was located about 335 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. 

If it becomes a hurricane, as expected, it would be the 13th Atlantic hurricane of the season. According to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, only one Atlantic hurricane season on record has had more than 12 hurricanes: 2005, which had 15 hurricanes, including Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Elsewhere, the former Tropical Storm Eta was classified as a post-tropical cyclone early Friday, racing off the southeast U.S. Atlantic coast and bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Carolinas after blustering across north Florida.

Farther east, Tropical Storm Theta was centered early Friday about 445 miles south-southeast of the Azores and moving east. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph. It was expected to begin to weaken over the weekend, the Hurricane Center said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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