Tropical Depression Sixteen (TD 16) is likely to bring torrential rains, landslides, and flooding to parts of Costa Rica and Central America.
The region’s complex, rugged topography may lead to several widely dispersed areas of extremely heavy rain.
The most confident outlook is for several inches of rain over nearly all of Nicaragua, with a core of 25 cm to 40 cm (10 in. – 15 in.) amounts very possible within TD 16’s circulation as it makes landfall and moves inland.
The westerly flow south of TD 16 will impinge into parts of Costa Rica and Panama, leading to very heavy rain already under way on some of the region’s south- and west-facing slopes. Another core of torrential rain is projected by models to develop later this week as TD 16’s outer circulation moves along the north coast of Honduras, perhaps extending into southern Belize and eastern Guatemala.
How rare is a hurricane landfall in Costa Rica?
If a Hurricane Otto develops and strikes as currently predicted on Wednesday in Costa Rica’s northeast coast it could be the southernmost hurricane landfall on record in Central America.
There are no recorded Atlantic hurricane landfalls in Costa Rica or Panama.
A weak tropical storm made landfall in Costa Rica in December 1887, and Panama: Hurricane Martha, which struck as a strong tropical storm in Veraguas Province, Panama, on November 24, 1969.
The storm also brought significant rains to Costa Rica. Flooding and mudslides isolated most of the capital city of San José. Numerous streets were inundated in Golfito. Damage in Costa Rica reached $30 million (1969 USD) and 5 deaths were reported.
“Undoubtedly, there have been other tropical cyclones that moved into Panama, but this was the first one that was definitely tracked,” said Robert Simpson and NHC colleagues in their roundup of the 1969 Atlantic hurricane season.