ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tropical Storm Iota formed Friday in the Caribbean and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it approaches Central America.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Iota could bring dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall to Nicaragua and Honduras by Sunday night.
Iota is the 30th named storm of this year’s record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. It could wreak havoc in a region where people are still grappling with more than 120 deaths and many more missing in the aftermath of Eta, the remnants of which finally blew out to sea on Friday.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Eta’s remnants would pick up forward speed in the next day or so as it pulls away from the Southeast seaboard. Eta also triggered flash flooding, water rescues and at least one bridge collapse in South Carolina, said Sandy LaCorte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville, S.C.
Eta hit Nicaragua last week as a Category 4 hurricane, killing at least 120 people as torrential rains brought flash floods and landslides to parts of Central America and Mexico. Then it meandered across Cuba, the Florida Keys and around the Gulf of Mexico before slogging ashore again near Cedar Key, Florida, and dashing across Florida and the Carolinas.
The Tampa Bay area was buffeted with gusty winds and rain, and there was one U.S. death linked to Eta: In Bradenton Beach, Mark Mixon stepped into his flooded garage as he was laying sandbags around his home Wednesday evening and was electrocuted, said Jacob Saur, director of public safety for Manatee County.
Eta was the 28th named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. Theta, the record-breaking 29th, was centered Friday south-southeast of the Azores, and moving east with top sustained winds of 60 mph.