Hurricane Iota made landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph in Nicaragua last night, around 15 miles from the spot Eta made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane 2 weeks ago. Iota is now moving through Nicaragua and Honduras bringing damaging winds and torrential rain.
While Iota was forecast to make landfall as a Category 5 storm, Iota underwent an eyewall replacement cycle prior to landfall.
Eyewall replacement cycles usually drop the peak wind speed a bit, but it’s a double edged sword. Eyewall replacement cycles also expand the inner core of maximum winds, meaning a larger area sees the peak winds of the storm, leading to more widespread damage.
Data from Hurricane Hunters was crucial in identifying that eyewall replacement cycle, and noting the slight decrease in maximum wind speed at landfall. Considering the expansion of the wind field in the hurricane though, I don’t really consider this weakening, just a re-organization of the storm. There are no significant differences in potential wind damage between a hurricane with winds of 155 mph and a hurricane with winds of 165 mph.
In Iota’s wake, the National Hurricane Center is monitoring an area in the Southwest Caribbean where another area of low pressure could develop tropical characteristics later this week.
This will be something we continue to monitor as we head through the rest of this week. You can track any tropical system using our interactive map below.