TODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaragua will once again be on the path of a hurricane this week since 2016. It is called ETA, which has raised fears of possible floods, mudslides, and severe damage to infrastructure and crops in the Caribbean, north, and center of the country.
In Managua, the phenomenon will also be felt with heavy rainfall, which is expected to begin to be felt today, Monday, November 1 and can last until the 7th, according to forecasts by national specialists and the United States National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The last time a hurricane hit Nicaragua was in 2016 and entered through San Juan de Nicaragua. It was Otto, arriving as a category 2 and after touching land (Nicaragua and part of Costa Rica), downgraded to a tropical storm.
It did not cause severe damage, like Mitch in 1998, which, although it did not directly impact the country, its blow left a tragic balance and landslides in Chinandega and throughout the national territory.
Today, ETA is expected to fall into the same category as Otto’s, after becoming a hurricane last night, generating heavy rains in Jamaica, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands, according to the latest report from the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (Ineter) at 5 pm on Sunday.
Since Saturday night in Nicaragua, the yellow alert for the North Caribbean Coast and green for the national territory was activated, which implied that dozens of families were evacuated in the North Caribbean, as floods and swollen rivers are expected in several departments of the country.
According to the monitoring of the NHC, hurricane ETA would impact the country at dawn Tuesday, November 3, and would enter between Cabo Gracias a Dios and Bilwi, but its effects will be felt from today Monday.
Until five in the afternoon yesterday, the storm was 473 kilometers northeast of Bilwi, as reported by Ineter.
“Rapid strengthening is forecasted over the next 24 to 36 hours, and ETA is expected to become a hurricane tonight (Sunday), with further strengthening likely until it makes landfall Monday night or early Tuesday,” said the NHC report.
However, once ETA makes landfall, it is expected to lose strength, but this will affect all of Nicaragua with heavy rains, especially in the northern Caribbean and the central area of the country.
The NHC report predicts that until Thursday, November 5, ETA will produce rains in northern Nicaragua, between 10 to 20 inches of water with maximum isolated amounts of up to 30 inches.
In this regard, Agustín Moreira, an agrometeorologist of the Humboldt Center, explained that the heavy rainfall will possibly prevail until Saturday, November 7, leading to the accumulated rainfall anticipated by the NHC.
“An inch of rain is almost 25 millimeters, so these amounts are exaggerated so that in three, five days they fall and are generating flood conditions, possible landslides and river overflow, mainly in the north of Nicaragua, Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Estelí, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Triángulo Miner,” said Moreira.
Risks and damages
Moreira pointed out that the risks and damages that the cyclone could generate on the Caribbean Coast would be in the vegetation and in the infrastructure of houses, in addition to storm surges.
As for the central area of the country, such as Bosawás, Waspam or Triángulo Minero, the effects would be river overflow, floods and possible landslides.
In Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Jinotega, Matagalpa, Boaco and Chontales, the greatest threats could be mudslides in the high areas of the mountains, streams that can cause overflowing of rivers and floods in favorable areas such as Matagalpa and Jinotega, for example.
Regarding Managua, Moreira called for security measures to be taken in the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Managua, as well as the houses near the riverbeds due to the strong currents. On Chinandega and León, some rivers could overflow and the lower part of those departments could flood.
Moreira recommended driving carefully on the open road due to the heavy rains that would cause invisibility of the road, in case the phenomenon enters as a hurricane.
“Even if a hurricane does not form, the conditions are conducive to having floods, mudslides and river overflows,” said the agrometeorologist.
According to the Humboldt Center, the population follow these recommendations:
- Store valuable objects and documents in plastic containers with lids.
- In case of heavy rain with electric shock, disconnect the electricity to prevent a short circuit.
- Have an alternative plan in case you are asked to evacuate your home.
- Have flashlights, batteries, radio, candles on hand in case of a blackout.
- If you come across flooded streets, get back on track.
- Develop an action plan to avoid panic in case of an emergency.
In case of storm surges:
- Look for high areas. Storm surges can cause a rapid rise in water level and flood large areas in just minutes.
- Suspend the sail of boats.
- Prepare an emergency kit for a possible evacuation.
- Follow the official warning instructions for a possible evacuation. Storm surges can occur before, during, or after the storm center passes through an area and can render evacuation routes impassable.
Evolution of the meteorological phenomenon
According to Moreira’s explanation, the transformation of the meteorological phenomenon begins as a tropical wave, then becomes a tropical depression (when the winds reach 62 km/h), and continues as a tropical storm (when the winds exceed 63 km/h and reach 118 km h), which is when it is assigned a name following the Greek alphabetical order. When the wind gusts exceed 118 km h it is classified as a category one hurricane.