Skip Navigation Links
NOAA NOAA United States Department of Commerce

Hurricane IOTA

Hurricane Iota Discussion Number  13
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL312020
1000 AM EST Mon Nov 16 2020
Iota is a very impressive hurricane, especially for this late in the 
year, with a distinct, warm eye on satellite images and a rather 
electrified eyewall from the GOES lightning detector.  An Air Force 
Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft found maximum 700-mb flight-winds 
of about 147 kt, with SFMR values of 140-145 kt, and a central 
pressure of about 917 mb. A blend of all these data leads to an 
initial wind speed of 140 kt, making Iota a category 5 hurricane, 
the latest category 5 on record for the Atlantic basin. A little 
more strengthening is possible today with fairly light shear and 
warm waters before Iota makes landfall tonight.  Rapid weakening is 
anticipated over central America, and Iota should dissipate in a 
couple of days.
The hurricane is moving westward at 9 kt.  This general motion with
perhaps a slight gain in latitude is expected through tonight due
to a large ridge of the high pressure to the north.  After
landfall, the cyclone should move a little faster, and dissipate
over the higher terrain of central America.  The new forecast is a
little south of the previous one, mostly owing to the initial

This is a catastrophic situation unfolding for northeastern 
Nicaragua with an extreme storm surge of 15-20 ft forecast along 
with destructive winds and potentially 30 inches of rainfall, and 
it is exacerbated by the fact that it should make landfall in 
almost the exact same location that category 4 Hurricane Eta did 
about two weeks ago. 
Key Messages:
1.  Iota is expected to remain a catastrophic category 5 hurricane 
when it approaches the coast of Nicaragua tonight. Extreme winds and 
a life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the 
coast of northeastern Nicaragua, where a hurricane warning is in 
2.  Through Thursday, heavy rainfall from Iota will likely lead to 
life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions 
of Central America. Flooding and mudslides in Honduras and Nicaragua 
could be exacerbated by Hurricane Eta’s recent effects there, 
resulting in significant to potentially catastrophic impacts.

3.  Hurricane conditions and storm surge impacts are likely still 
occurring on Providencia.  Tropical storm conditions are 
expected and hurricane conditions are possible on San Andres.
INIT  16/1500Z 13.5N  82.0W  140 KT 160 MPH
 12H  17/0000Z 13.7N  83.2W  145 KT 165 MPH
 24H  17/1200Z 14.0N  84.8W   75 KT  85 MPH...INLAND
 36H  18/0000Z 14.1N  86.5W   40 KT  45 MPH...INLAND
 48H  18/1200Z 13.9N  88.4W   30 KT  35 MPH...INLAND
 60H  19/0000Z...DISSIPATED
Forecaster Blake