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A tropical depression that had formed over the central Caribbean earlier Friday has strengthened into Tropical Storm Iota.
Iota was located about 603 miles southeast of Grand Cayman as of 4pm Friday. It was travelling west-southwest at three miles per hour and had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
“This storm poses no immediate threat to the Cayman Islands,” the Cayman Islands National Weather Service said in its 4pm update.
Iota does, however, pose a risk to areas of Central America that are still recovering from Eta, which hit Nicaragua last week as a Category 4 hurricane and caused widespread devastation.
“Risk of dangerous winds, storm surge, and rainfall impacts in Central America beginning Sunday night or Monday,” the US-based National Hurricane Center said in 4pm update.
There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but the NHC indicated a hurricane watch may be required for portions of Nicaragua and Honduras as early as Friday night.
“Steady to rapid strengthening is likely over the weekend, and the system is forecast to be a major hurricane when it approaches Central America,” the NHC said.
Haiti and Jamaica can expect from 2 to 4 inches of rain with local amounts up to 6 inches, the NHC said. Iota is expected to produce 4 to 8 inches of rain with up to 12 inches across portions of northern Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.
“Across remaining sections of Central America, the system has the potential to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain with a focus across northern Nicaragua and Honduras. This rainfall would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain,” the NHC said.
The formation of Iota continues a record-setting Atlantic hurricane season. It marks the 30th named storm of the season – the most on record – and has tied the 2005 mark of most tropical depressions when it formed as Tropical Depression 31 earlier Friday.