Civil Defense, in conjunction with the Navy, evacuated some 1,650 citizens to “solidarity houses” in Bilwi, in the North Caribbean.
HAVANA TIMES – Tropical storm Eta strengthened into a hurricane early Monday, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (145 kph) at 7 a.m. (ET). The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts a landfall either late Monday or early Tuesday in northeastern Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan authorities began evacuations on Sunday starting with some 1,650 citizens from the Miskitos Cays.
Eta is expected to quickly strengthen in the coming hours to become a strong Category 2 hurricane, with winds of 100 mph (160 kph). The NHC warned that the hurricane may strengthen further before making landfall.
At 7 a.m. Monday the center of Eta was located 140 miles (225 km) east of Cape Gracias a Dios, on the border of Nicaragua and Honduras, and 165 miles (265 km) east-northeast of Nicaraguan Puerto Cabezas.
The NHC said Eta could make landfall at some point on the Nicaraguan coast from the border with Honduras to Sandy Bay Sirpi or on the coast of Honduras, from Punta Patuca to the border with Nicaragua.
Evacuation of citizens
Faced with the coming of Eta, Civil Defense authorities together with the Navy evacuated the first 1,650 persons on Sunday. They were taken to “solidarity houses” in Bilwi (Puerto Cabezas), the main city of Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Region).
Among the evacuees, 150 were persons on fishing or other types of boats in the Miskitos Cays, according to the official report.
The North Caribbean Region and the departments of Jinotega and Nueva Segovia (northcentral) are on an alert stage. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is on a preventive alert state.
The Naval Force suspended the sailing of vessels in the Nicaraguan Caribbean, as a security measure.
Active hurricane season
Eta is the name of a Greek letter and it is the first time it is used to name a storm.
The Greek alphabet is used to name storms when the list of 21 names that the International Meteorological Organization produces for each year is exhausted.
Twenty-eight named storms have already formed in this very active Atlantic hurricane season, of which 11 became hurricanes.
The last was Zeta, which made landfall in Louisiana (USA) last Wednesday. It was the sixth to hit the US this year.
Tropical storm force winds extend up to 140 miles (220 km) from the center of Eta.
The NHC says Eta could produce up to 35 inches of rain (890 mm). Such would be very dangerous for northern and central Nicaragua and most of Honduras.
The system is also expected to cause rains in eastern Guatemala and southern Belize, parts of Panama and Costa Rica, Jamaica, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.
The storm surge that Eta will produce can raise sea levels as much as 15 feet (4.5 meters) above normal in the hurricane watch area accompanied by strong waves.
The Eta swell is expected to affect portions of Central American and the Mexican Yucatan peninsula in the coming days.