Otto battering the northern town of Upala tonigh

7:55pm Thursday. Making landfall early this morning as a Category 2, Hurricane Otto weakened rapidly as it moved across southern Nicaragua and currently making its way through northern Costa Rica.

At 7:45pm, Otto is battering the largest of the populated area in its path, the border town of Upala and moving west at 19 km/h. Many areas of Upala, and neighbouring Los Chiles and Guatuso are without electricity.

In La Cruz, residents in the mainly tourist area of Bahia Salinas are bracing for strong winds and heavy rains. The eye of the storm is expected to reach the Pacific coast within a few hours, by midnight Otto should be in the Pacific.

Originally expected to take 36 hours to move from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific, Otto will have completed its trek in less than 18 hours.

So far there have been no reports of casualties. On Tuesday, heavy rains from the storm were blamed for three deaths in Panama.

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The Central Valley and south Limon were the only areas spared by Otto, where light to moderate rain in some areas was about the worst of the day.

In its path, that started south of Bluefields in Nicaragua, the intense rain and damaging winds have caused flooding and mud slides, raising roofs in many areas and about two dozen communities isolated. A number of important roads were closed, testing the resolve of crews to re-open them as soon as possible.

Both the Nicaragua and Costa Rica governments, as a preventive measure, declared their respective state of emergency, with evacuations of areas in immediate risk of flooding.

The several thousands in shelters tonight are expected to go home Friday morning as calm returns to the affected areas.

Otto is the hurricane that has touched down the furthest south of Central America since there are records.

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