Hurricane Iota has made landfall in Nicaragua two weeks after another devastating storm hit.
Iota had intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm early in the day, but the US National Hurricane Center said it weakened slightly by Monday night to Category 4, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph.
“What’s drawing closer is a bomb,” President Juan Orlando Hernández of neighbouring Honduras said at an earlier press conference.
Authorities warned that Iota would probably come ashore over areas where Hurricane Eta’s torrential rains saturated the soil, leaving it prone to new landslides and floods, and that the storm surge could reach 15 to 20 feet above normal tides.
Iota is the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year and only the second November hurricane to reach category five – the last was in 1932.
Eta had hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane two weeks ago, killing more than 130 people as torrential rains caused flash floods and mudslides in parts of Central America and Mexico.
Before reaching Central America the storm moved past the Colombian island of Providencia in the Caribbean, cutting off electricity.
Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua have evacuated residents living in low-lying areas and near rivers in the Atlantic coastal region which Iota is expected to hit.
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has broken the record for the number of named storms. For only the second time on record officials have had to start using the letters of the Greek alphabet to start storm names.