FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — This has already been the most active hurricane season in recorded history, but 2020 isn't done yet. Tropical Storm Iota formed Friday afternoon in the Caribbean Sea, the National Hurricane Center said.
Iota is the 30th tropical system this year, and its forecast to intensify rapidly into a hurricane as it tracks toward Central America.
By the time it makes landfall, Iota could be a major hurricane with wind speeds near 110 mph, a life-threatening storm surge and flooding rains in Nicaragua and Honduras, the hurricane center said in its forecast discussion.
Named after the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet, Iota (pronounced ee-oh-tah), isn't expected to take the same turn to the north that Eta did before hitting Florida earlier this week. It could, however, make the journey into the Pacific Ocean, become a rare crossover storm that gets renamed.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, Tropical Storm Iota was 370 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and was crawling west-southwest at 5 mph. Iota's maximum sustained winds are 40 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 90 miles from the center, the hurricane center said.
Forecasters expect Iota to speed up slightly by late Saturday as it moves across the central Caribbean Sea and approaches the coasts of Nicaragua and northeastern Honduras late Sunday and Monday.
In the Caribbean, Iota could bring heavy rainfall and flooding to portions of Haiti and Jamaica, with possible landslides, forecasters said.
The 2020 hurricane season became the busiest in recorded history when Tropical Storm Theta formed on Nov. 9. Theta is still active in the far eastern Atlantic but is of no immediate threat to land.
Tropical Storm Eta became the first storm of the 2020 hurricane season to make landfall in Florida when it moved over the Florida Keys last Sunday. It made a second landfall just south of Cedar Key early Thursday.
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