The storm known as Ida became a hurricane Thursday, strengthening from tropical storm status, as it neared Nicaragua's eastern coast.
Forecasters said Ida, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and gusts up to 85 mph (135 kph), was expected to make landfall Thursday morning.
Flash floods and mudslides in Nicaragua and Honduras are expected to be the biggest dangers. Because Ida is a slow-moving storm, rainfall totals could approach 30 inches in some locations, meteorologists said, CNN International reports.
It was also reported, Ida was centered 60 miles (100 kilometers) north-northeast of coastal Bluefields early Thursday with winds of 75 mph (120 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
It could dump as much as 20 inches (500 millimeters) of rain in parts as it crosses eastern Nicaragua, with the risk of flash floods and mudslides, according to the Miami-based center.
There were no immediate reports of deaths, but Nicaragua's National Civil Defense director Mario Perez said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated — 800 of those from flimsy, makeshift homes on Corn Island and nearby Little Corn Island, where strong winds damaged about 45 homes, toppled trees and knocked out power. Residents were taken to the port authority building and concrete hotels.
About 2,500 people live on the two islands, which are popular tourist destinations, The Associated Press reports.
In the meantime, Eastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras are forecast to get 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 centimeters) of rain from the system, with 25 inches possible, the center said. Islands off Nicaragua may get as much as 7 inches. Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides are possible, the U.S. agency said.
A five-day prediction for Ida’s track puts the eye of the storm just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula early on Nov. 10 as it moves into the Gulf, home to about 26 percent of U.S. oil production, Bloomberg reports.
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