Speed Reads

2020 hurricane season

Hurricane Eta strengthens to a dangerous Category 4, bears down on Nicaragua, Honduras

Hurricane Eta tripled in strength in 24 hours and was bearing down on Nicaragua and Honduras Tuesday morning as a dangerous Category 4 storm, with winds of 150 mph and heavy rains already causing rivers to flood. Eta is expected to crawl over Central America for several days, dumping 10 to 35 inches of rain before passing back into the Caribbean. "This rainfall would lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain of Central America," the National Hurricane Center forecast.

Nicaragua and Honduras evacuated residents from coastal islands and low-lying coastal areas in preparation for Eta's arrival. The hurricane is drawing comparisons to 1998's Hurricane Mitch, one of the most destructive Atlantic hurricanes on record, blamed for more than 9,000 deaths. Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this year — tying a 2005 record, though it is the first to reach the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet because one of the 2005 storms was retroactively included one of the 28 storms. It is also the fifth major hurricane this year and the eight to meet the definition for rapid intensification. The hurricane season doesn't end until Nov. 30.