Nov. 13 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Iota developed Friday afternoon within the central Caribbean simply hours after the system had change into Tropical Despair 31.

It might change into the subsequent hurricane –the 13th of the season — and simply two shy of the report variety of hurricanes to churn within the Atlantic in a single season held by 2005.

Forecasters are warning that Iota might strengthen sufficient to change into a hurricane earlier than it takes goal on the nations of Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala which might be nonetheless reeling from Hurricane Eta’s disastrous strike final week. In actual fact, the storm took form in practically the identical precise place that Eta fashioned lower than two weeks in the past.

Central America is dealing with a humanitarian disaster following Eta’s lethal blow. Thousands and thousands are enduring harmful circumstances within the storm’s wake — with issues over waterborne illnesses and COVID-19 complicating restoration. And the scenario might change into much more dire.

“I’m tremendously involved we might quickly have one other main catastrophe on our fingers in Central America if this Caribbean tropical system pans out like we suspect,” AccuWeather’s high hurricane professional Dan Kottlowski mentioned.

Most sustained winds of Iota have been 40 mph at four p.m. EST on Friday, the system crawling west-southwestward at three mph. That is the primary time the NHC has ever gotten this far into the Greek alphabet throughout a tropical season.

Situations can be conducive for additional strengthening as waters stay very heat — round 84 levels Fahrenheit — within the space the place the storm is churning. The weak wind sample over the Caribbean can even doubtless issue into intensification of the system over the subsequent a number of days.

Within the early levels of improvement, the system will are usually moderately unfold out in nature with showers and thunderstorms extending from the northern shores of South America to the massive islands of the northern Caribbean.

However because the system organizes and strengthens, showers and thunderstorms will change into extra compact over the western Caribbean this weekend. The disturbed climate might as soon as once more increase in areal protection and depth because the system nears Central America early subsequent week.

It might take a run at Nicaragua or Honduras as a serious hurricane with winds of 111 mph or higher, however even a weaker, drenching tropical storm might unleash life-threatening impacts and catastrophic harm in Eta’s aftermath. Eta struck Nicaragua as a Class four hurricane, rating among the many high 5 strongest storms to ever hit the nation. The damaging storm carved a path of destruction by Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, unleashing ft of rain, great flooding and killing greater than 100 in early November.

“There’s additionally the potential for this method to take a extra northwesterly path over the western Caribbean, which might convey a powerful hurricane near Belize or presumably a part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. We could have a greater grasp of the place this method is more likely to monitor as soon as the function reaches a strong tropical storm depth,” Kottlowski mentioned.

The best menace to lives and property from the brand new cyclone is anticipated to be dealt by severe flooding brought on by ft of rainfall. Main river flooding and flash flooding might happen. The precise monitor it takes and its power and ahead velocity because it plows onshore in Central America will decide how grim the scenario will change into.

“I don’t recall ever seeing back-to-back hurricane strikes in the identical basic space of Central America, however with the craziness of this hurricane season, we can’t rule that out at this early stage,” Kottlowski mentioned.

It’s doable the system’s path might change into erratic because it approaches and strikes over Central America, because the winds anticipated to information the system alongside are more likely to weaken — an identical state of affairs to what unfolded as Eta neared the area in early November.

Weak steering winds precipitated an identical impact again when Hurricane Mitch slammed the realm in late October and early November of 1998. Mitch peaked as a Class 5 hurricane, packing most sustained winds of 180 mph (290 km/h), over the western Caribbean, however it weakened to a Class 1 hurricane with 80-mph (130-km/h) winds previous to landfall in Honduras. Mitch unloaded as much as 50 inches (1250 mm) of rain and precipitated disastrous flooding that took the lives of greater than 11,000 individuals in Central America.

2020 set the report for probably the most tropical storms to be named in a single Atlantic hurricane season as Theta grew to become the 29th tropical storm of the season earlier this week.

And the Caribbean menace wasn’t the one function retaining forecasters busy.

After hanging Florida twice in lower than every week, Eta moved out to sea on Thursday afternoon. Early Friday morning, Eta grew to become a non-tropical low because it merged with a chilly entrance over the western Atlantic. The Nationwide Hurricane Heart issued its final advisory on the system.

In the meantime, Tropical Storm Theta continued to swirl south of the Azores on Friday. The storm might dip southeastward towards the Canary Islands earlier than it takes a northeastward flip. It’s more likely to fluctuate in power however with an total weakening pattern forecast.

A few of Theta’s wind and rain might stay intact, finally affecting a part of western Europe later this month.