Tropical storm Iota stirred in the Caribbean on Friday night, becoming the 30th named storm in the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.
The storm, which moved at a speed of three miles per hour from west to southwest from 4 p.m. on Friday, should steadily intensify and gain speed over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman and meteorologist for the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Friday night that the storm could turn into a major hurricane – Category 3 or higher – within the next 36 hours as it approaches Central America. It is expected to approach the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua by late Sunday. Rainfall could be up to 20 inches in the northern parts of the two countries.
Iota’s formation follows the subtropical storm Theta and Hurricane Eta. Hurricane Eta brought deadly floods and landslides and struck parts of Central America when it landed as a Category 4 hurricane.
This storm also hit Florida twice, leaving thousands without power and flooding streets and paths. Unlike Eta, Iota is not expected to turn north toward the United States, Feltgen said.
While scientists haven’t definitively said that global warming led to more hurricanes, there is consensus that climate change has changed the behavior of hurricanes and made them more destructive.
Scientists had expected an active hurricane season with up to 25 named storms. That expectation has now been exceeded, along with the 2005 record where 28 storms were strong enough to be named.
After exhausting the list of 21 names drawn up by the World Meteorological Organization for the hurricane season, meteorologists turned to names from the Greek alphabet.
Mr Feltgen said that “2020 had all the right ingredients to be an exceptionally active season.”