East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness
By By BEN NUCKOLS
Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT
WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.
A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.
The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.
In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.
At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.
A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.
Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.
The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.
Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.
“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.
“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.
“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.
Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.
At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.
“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”
Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.
The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.
The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.
The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.
In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.
At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”
Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.
Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.
“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”
The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.
Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.
A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.
“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”
An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.
The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.
Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.
It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.
The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.
People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.
In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.
Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.
“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.
“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”
___
Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

Israel strikes Hamas targets outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

IDF strikes Hamas targets in Gaza following rocket fire on Israel

“It was a restless night in the south of the country, and one group is responsible for it, Hamas,” says Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

After the Israeli military struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Saturday following terrorist rockets fire on southern and central Israel, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Israel holds Hamas responsible.

The IDF said the strike targeted underground Hamas infrastructure and military positions.

The rockets are believed to have been fired to mark one-year anniversary of the elimination of senior Islamic Jihad operative Bahaa Abu al-Ata.

Israel Defense Forces

@IDF

2 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel earlier tonight.

In response, our forces just struck Hamas underground infrastructure & military posts in Gaza.

The IDF is conducting an ongoing situational assessment & remains prepared to operate against any terror activity.

8:37 PM · Nov 14, 2020

2.1K

525 are Tweeting about this

Sirens warning of incoming rocket fire were heard in Ashdod and Kibbutz Palmachim in the south, as well as in several cities in central Israel.

“It was a restless night in the south of the country, and one group is responsible for it – Hamas,” Gantz said on Sunday. “If Hamas does not stand the test of peace, the results will be dire first of all for its leadership and for the residents of the Gaza Strip.”

The defense minister added: “I would like to tell the residents of the south that we are working in several directions, both operational and in other ways, in order to bring about long-term peace. We will continue our response to the violation of our sovereignty, beyond what we have done, in a time, place and manner that will serve our long-term needs… in the south of the country.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed the strike, saying two launches from Gaza were identified.

“IDF fighter jets, helicopters and tanks shelled underground infrastructure and military positions of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip. The attack was carried out in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the military said in a statement.

“The IDF conducts ongoing situation assessments and acts decisively against any attempt at terrorist activity against the citizens of the State of Israel and the violation of its sovereignty.”

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 8

Iran’s oil exports, uranium stockpile surge as Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy hits a wall

The Bella oil tanker in an undated photo released by the Justice Department. The U.S. government sold oil seized from the tanker that it said originated in Iran and was destined for Venezuela. (Justice Department/AFP/Getty Images)

November 15, 2020 at 6:49 PM EST

Last week, as the White House digested news of a defeat at the polls, Trump administration officials were greeted with reports of troubling setbacks on two fronts in the country’s long-simmering conflict with Iran.

First came a leaked U.N. document showing yet another sharp rise in Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium Then, satellites tracked an Iranian oil tanker — the fourth in recent weeks — sailing toward the Persian Gulf after delivering Iranian petroleum products to Venezuela.

The first item was further proof of Iran’s progress in amassing the fissile fuel used to make nuclear energy and, potentially, nuclear bombs. The second revealed gaping holes in President Trump’s strategy for stopping that advance. Over the summer, the administration made a show of seizing cargo from several other tankers at sea in a bid to deter Iran from trying to sell its oil abroad. Yet Iran’s oil trade, like its nuclear fuel output, is on the rise again.

The Trump administration is entering its final months with a flurry of new sanctions intended to squeeze Iran economically. But by nearly every measure, the efforts appear to be faltering. The tankers that arrived in Venezuela in recent weeks are part of a flotilla of ships that analysts say is now quietly moving a million barrels of discounted Iranian oil and gas a day to eager customers from the Middle East to South America to Asia, including China.

The volume represents a more than tenfold increase since the spring, analysts say, and signals what experts see as a significant weakening of the “maximum pressure” sanctions imposed by the Trump administration since it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Other countries, many of them scornful of Trump’s unilateralism on Iran, are showing increasing reluctance to enforce the restrictions, even as Iran embarks on a new expansion of its uranium stockpile, according to industry analysts and intelligence officials, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive assessments.

Trump imposes more sanctions and sells off Iranian oil

As a result, Trump is widely expected to leave President-elect Joe Biden with a crisis that is worse, by nearly every measure, than when he was elected four years ago: an Iranian government that is blowing past limits on its nuclear program, while Washington’s diplomatic and economic leverage steadily declines.

“The Tehran regime has met ‘maximum pressure’ with its own pressure,” said Robert Litwak, senior vice president of the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of “Managing Nuclear Risks,” a book on countering proliferation threats. Far from halting Iran’s nuclear advances, Litwak said, the administration’s policies have “diplomatically isolated the United States, not Iran.”

The weakening of sanctions pressure gives Iran more time to deal with its still formidable economic challenges, without losing a step in its bid to re-create uranium assets it had given up under the terms of the nuclear accord, the intelligence officials and industry experts said. Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported to member states in a confidential document that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium has swollen to nearly 8,000 pounds, more than 12 times the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal. Iranian officials justify the breach by noting that it was Washington, not Tehran, that walked away from the agreement.

Even among staunch U.S. allies in Europe and Asia, dismay over the Trump approach has cooled support for the kind of broadly enforced economic boycott that might push Iran to change its behavior, analysts said.

“Many eyes may be averted now” when it comes to Iranian cheating on sanctions, said Eric Lee, an energy strategist with Citigroup in New York. “Many countries are frustrated with U.S. unilateralism, even those with well-placed misgivings about Iran.”

‘Just pure barter’

The message conveyed to Iran over the summer was anything but subtle. In a highly unusual move, the U.S. working with unnamed foreign partners seized the cargo of four tankers said to be carrying Iranian oil, including the 600-foot-long Bella, a Greek-owned vessel flying a Liberian flag.

Both Iran and the intended recipient, Venezuela, are under U.S. economic sanctions, and the decision to confiscate and sell the oil was intended to discourage governments and shipping companies from doing business with either of the two. “The United States remains committed to our maximum pressure campaigns against the Iranian and [the Venezuelan] Maduro regimes,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

U.S. officials seize Iranian ships, push for arms embargo

Yet any pause in commerce between the countries was temporary at best. Venezuela and Iran are longtime trading partners — Venezuela, itself an oil producer, relies on Iran for refined petroleum products such as gasoline — and the two quickly found other tanker companies willing to risk the journey. Among the four tankers spotted traveling to, or returning from, Venezuela in recent weeks was the Iranian-flagged Horse, a massive ship the length of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, according to TankerTrackers.com, a private company that monitors oil shipments around the world.

The Horse dropped off 2 million barrels of Iranian gas condensate — a straw-colored liquid used as a dilutant for Venezuela’s sludgy crude oil — and picked up 2 million barrels of Venezuelan petroleum to sell abroad, said TankerTrackers co-founder Sam Madani. The ship rounded the Horn of Africa early this past week on its return trip to Iran.

“This is just pure barter,” Madani said of Iran’s trade with the embattled Venezuelans. “They need to get rid of this stuff. They send it to Venezuela, which is perfect, because it improves their oil production. And in return, they get Venezuela’s oil and they can sell it to China.”

Yet, despite its prominence, the tanker traffic between Iran and Venezuela is but one facet of an illicit trade that has grown in size and sophistication over the past year. Obtaining reliable figures for Iran’s oil industry is difficult, but multiple independent analysts calculated that Tehran exported on average 1.2 million barrels of oil a day in September, and nearly as much in October. That’s less than half the amount of petroleum Tehran was selling in 2018, but it is dramatically higher than the 70,000 barrels reported in April, when Iran was contending simultaneously with Trump administration sanctions and the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

Analysts see ‘quantum change’ in Iran’s missile capabilities

Some of Iran’s partners no longer try to keep the transactions secret. Since the summer, Iran has become increasingly open about its trade with China, which now publicly reports a portion of its Iranian oil imports, defying a Trump administration threat to retaliate against governments that allow commerce with Tehran.

But Iran conceals the bulk of its oil trade through subterfuge, with practices ranging from the simple — changing the names and registrations of oil tankers — to the complex and dangerous, such as clandestine transfers of crude oil or liquefied petroleum gas between vessels in the open sea.

United Against Nuclear Iran, a Washington advocacy group that monitors Iran’s illicit oil trade, obtained aerial photographs depicting four vessels allegedly engaged in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of Iranian oil in October. In five other instances, foreign ships were seen picking up Iranian liquid petroleum gas and transferring the fuel to other vessels bound for Chinese ports. The photographs are part of a report due to be published by UANI this week.

The tankers involved in the exchanges typically turn off their transponders, the automated radio beacons used by ships to identify one another at sea. Some engage in “spoofing,” a kind of seaborne shell game in which ships swap their transponders to make it harder for outsiders to tell where the oil is going. In other cases, a tanker’s owners simply change the vessel’s name or re-register the ship under a different country’s flag.

“It’s a very murky world,” said Daniel Roth, UANI research director, who co-wrote the report with Claire Jungman, UANI chief of staff. “There’s a lot of flag-hopping that goes on. Owners change names and registries at the drop of a hat.”

All sea lanes lead to China

A substantial share of the black-market oil eventually ends up at refineries in China, often after passing though middlemen in Malaysia and other East Asian countries, analysts say. Much of the rest finds its way to foreign markets through a variety of time-tested routes: hauled overland through Turkey; transferred to Iraq to be relabeled and sold as Iraqi oil; or exchanged for cash or in barter-style swaps with other pariah states, such as Venezuela and Syria.

Nuclear watchdog sees sharp rise in Iran’s uranium stockpile

Yet while Iran is succeeding in getting more of its oil to foreign markets, Iranian leaders also expressed hope last week that the Biden administration would return to the 2015 nuclear deal. The accord ended many sanctions against Iran in return for strict limits on its weapons program.

Under the agreement, Western countries lifted curbs on Iran’s oil exports, while Tehran dismantled its Arak nuclear reactor and agreed to limit its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to less than 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, far short of what it would need to build a single nuclear weapon. With its current 8,000-pound stockpile, Tehran could now build a bomb in less than four months if it decides to do so, weapons experts say. Iran denies having any interest in acquiring a nuclear weapon.

But the prospects for restoring the agreement are far from clear. As a candidate, Biden pledged to reenter the agreement and conduct “hard-nosed diplomacy” aimed at extending the pact and strengthening its provisions. So far, Tehran has shown no signs of willingness to accept such terms, and in any case, it would be unlikely to do so until after next year’s presidential elections in Iran, analysts say.

If negotiations eventually resume, the “timing most likely will be a lot slower than people think, and the volume of oil exports will remain low,” said Lee, the Citigroup energy strategist.

“And even then,” he said, “it still might not work out.”

The Chinese Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 7

No doubt’ China is upgrading its nuclear power to be on par with U.S., Russia – Washington Times

“For months now, we have been calling on the Chinese Communist Party to come to the table and negotiate in good faith,” he said. “This is not merely an ask that we have. This is an obligation of theirs. is legally bound to honor it. The NPT states plainly that all parties must pursue negotiations in good faith. China is perilously close to standing in violation of the NPT due to their repeated refusals to meet.”

Earlier, the Trump administration declassified new briefing slides on Chinese excavation at the Lop Nur nuclear testing site. Work at the facility recently increased, and the administration has suggested in official reports that China may have carried out nuclear tests there.

The briefing also included satellite photos of Chinese missiles paraded during the annual national day festivities.

A comparison of parades of missiles since 2009 showed that the latest parade in 2019 was 10 times longer than the first and displayed new missiles such as the DF-17 hypersonic missile, DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile, and DF-31 and DF-41 ICBMs, along with the JL-2 submarine-launched missile.

“In the past, I’ve said that in 2019 Chinalaunched 225 ballistic missiles. That is a huge number, more than the rest of the world combined,” said Mr. Billingslea, the arms envoy.

“The same was true in 2018,” he said. “As of October of this year, even with COVID-19, China has shot off 180 ballistic missiles.”

Adm. Charles Richard, commander of the Strategic Command, told reporters in September that China’s nuclear buildup should not be measured by numbers of warheads, which are far fewer than the United States’ 1,550 deployed warheads.

Adm. Richard said a nation’s stockpile is a relatively crude measure of capabilities.

“You have to look at the totality of it: the delivery systems, what they’re capable of, what their readiness is,” he said. “And China, in particular, is developing a stack of capabilities that, to my mind, is increasingly inconsistent with a stated no-first-use policy.”

China has claimed its nuclear arsenal is far smaller than those of the U.S. and Russia and that it would not be the first to use nuclear arms in a conflict. That claim is under scrutiny because of the nuclear forces buildup.

“Given the huge gap between the nuclear arsenals of China and those of the U.S. and the Russian Federation, it is unfair, unreasonable and infeasible to expect China to join in any trilateral arms control negotiation,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the U.N. General Assembly last month. He called the U.S. demand to join the nuclear talks “a trick to shift the focus of the international community.”

China’s submarine missile capability is also a concern.

“China now has the capability to directly threaten our homeland from a ballistic missile submarine,” Adm. Richard said. “That’s a pretty watershed moment.”

The annual Pentagon report on the Chinese military stated that China’s nuclear forces will “significantly evolve” in 10 years with advanced weapons and larger numbers of a land-, sea- and air-based delivery system.

“Over the next decade, China’s nuclear warhead stockpile — currently estimated to be in the low-200s — is projected to at least double in size as China expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” the report said.

It was the first time in decades that the Pentagon had revealed its estimate of warheads. Some experts say the number is much larger and includes hidden stockpiles of warheads.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return an email request for comment.

The Expansion of the Russian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Possible deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Crimea to endanger whole Europe – NSDC

The possible deployment of nuclear weapons by Russia on the territory of occupied Crimea could pose a threat to any part of Europe.

Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Serhiy Kryvonos announced in a comment for Apostrophe Live.

He explained that the Russian Federation has considerable capacities for storying and deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of occupied Crimea.

“Since the Soviet times, there have been several facilities that were used to store nuclear weapons. One of the facilities is the so-called Feodosia-13 facility, now it is the village of Krasnokamyanka.

In the Crimean Tatar language, this is Kyzyltash, where the large-scale construction of a storage base had been carried out for six years since the beginning of the 1950s. This is the former 12th Directorate of the USSR Ministry of Defense, which was in charge of nuclear weapons. The facility was in use until 1996, and the last weapon was removed from there in the middle of the 1990s,” Kryvonos said.

This military facility consists of tunnels that have dimensions of a subway and are more than 30 km in length. It was partially mothballed and partially dismantled, he said.

“According to our information, after the annexation of Crimea, Russia began to carry out certain work at the facility,” Kryvonos said.

He also named the second facility on the territory of Crimea, where nuclear weapons could be deployed. This is Balaklava, where the Russian submarines are based.

“They have built additional tunnels for submarines – and this is verified information,” Kryvonos said.

He noted that the weapons deployed by Russia on the occupied peninsula pose a threat to European countries.

“For example, when Tu-22M3 bombers are based in Crimea, they can threaten even Great Britain … It is difficult to say what type of nuclear weapons they are deploying there, new or old ones. But all this creates a great danger to any part of Europe,” Kryvonos said.

Russia may deploy nuclear weapons in Crimea: NSDC warnings

• Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said that Russia could soon deploy nuclear weapons in occupied Crimea.

• According to Danilov, the deployment of nuclear weapons in Crimea depends on many factors.

The Wind of God’s Wrath Becomes a Category 5: Jeremiah 23

Hurricane Iota becomes first Category 5 storm of 2020 season – accuweather.com

Published Nov. 14, 2020 5:17 PM

By Courtney Spamer, AccuWeather meteorologist
& Mary Gilbert, AccuWeather meteorologist

The storm will deal a catastrophic blow to a region that is already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis triggered by Hurricane Eta just two weeks ago.

Thirteen days may be all the time between multiple humanitarian crises in Central America. For the second time this month, a dangerous tropical threat looms large across the region. Areas still working to recover from the deadly Hurricane Eta are now under threat from an equally powerful tropical system — Hurricane Iota.

Iota reached Category 5 strength — the first storm of the season to reach the highest status on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale — when its winds peaked at 160 mph on Monday morning. Just hours earlier, the record-breaking 30th named storm of the season had strengthened from a Category 2 storm to a Category 4 major hurricane within an hour’s time.

Iota strengthened so quickly that its intensification ranks among three other historic hurricanes — Gilbert in 1988, Rita in 2005 and Wilma in 2005. Also, Iota became the only storm to rapidly strengthen with its central barometric pressure dropping by 1.8 inches of mercury (61 mb) in 24 hours in November.

At 10 a.m. EST Monday, Iota was generating its whipping winds about 25 miles northeast of Isla de Providencia, Colombia, as it continued moving west at 10 mph. AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting the powerful system to come ashore either late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, potentially just miles away from the area where Eta made its catastrophic landfall less than two weeks earlier. Hurricane watches and warnings were in effect for much of the coast.

The above animation shows a visible satellite and infrared view of Hurricane Iota on Monday morning, churning in the western Caribbean Sea (NOAA/GOES-East).

Besides Iota, the most recent major hurricane in the Atlantic was Hurricane Eta. Hurricane Eta made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Nov. 3, in Nicaragua, which was among the top five strongest storms to ever hit the nation. Eta also carved a path of destruction through Honduras and Guatemala, unleashing feet of rain, tremendous flooding and killing more than 100.

Central America is still facing a humanitarian crisis following Eta’s deadly blow. Millions are enduring dangerous conditions in the storm’s wake — with concerns over waterborne diseases and COVID-19 complicating recovery. And the situation is likely to become even more dire as Iota approaches the coast. 

“With Eta having gone through less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Iota will place another devastating blow to the region. No amount of words can describe the problems this system will add to the crisis already occurring in the area,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde said.

Iota is forecast to pick up some forward speed and as it continues to move westward toward the border of Honduras and Nicaragua on Monday. Along the way, heavy rainfall will inundate northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela, as well as southern Jamaica.

In addition to widespread rainfall, Iota will continue to move through an area of low wind shear and warm water — around 84 degrees Fahrenheit — in the western Caribbean Sea, allowing the storm to strengthen even further still.

“Iota is expected to strengthen through Monday and make landfall over the northern coast of Nicaragua Monday evening as a Category 4 hurricane,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll said. “Landfall will occur north of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, north of where Eta made landfall.”

The exact track it takes, the strength and forward speed as it plows onshore in Central America will determine how grim the situation will become.

“The chance is low, but Iota could become a Category 5 hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 157 mph or higher) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” Doll added.

Should Iota make landfall in Nicaragua as a hurricane, it would be only the second time in history the country would be hit by two hurricanes in one season. The last time it occurred was in 1971, when Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Edith hit Nicaragua.

In Central America, building seas were the first impact, beginning Sunday evening. Next will be the outer bands of Iota, that will bring heavy rain to Nicaragua and eastern Honduras as early as Monday morning, then gusty winds.

The exact strength of Iota at landfall will dictate the wind gusts experienced by the storm. If Iota makes landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 mph (209 km/h) or greater, the effects could be devastating.

“Massive damage to structures is likely and some will be destroyed. Some areas will be uninhabitable for months,” Doll warned.

In addition to the strongest, most distructive winds being found at the coast near landfall, so too will be the most impactful storm surge from Iota.

Storm surge of 1-3 feet (0.3-1 meter) will stretch from near Claura in Honduras to Haulover, Nicaragua, with the most severe surge, 10-15 feet (3-5 meters) between Puerto Cabezas and Nina Yari. This same area experienced coastal inundation from Eta earlier this month.

Even still, the most widespread and greatest threat to lives and property from the new cyclone is expected to be dealt by serious flooding caused by feet of rainfall. Major river flooding and flash flooding could occur with a vast area of 12-18 inches (300-457 mm) across the mountainous terrain of Honduras, the most likely location for the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 30 inches (762 mm).

Even more widespread amounts of 2-4 inches (50-100 mm) are forecast from Guatemala to central Nicaragua, worsening ongoing flooding and clean-up efforts.

With all of the mountainous terrain and the very saturated ground following Hurricane Eta, mudslides are a definite concern with the new tropical threat.

Given the threat posed by devastating storm surge, catastrophic flooding inland and devastating winds, Iota will be a 5 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes over Central America. This is based on the life-threatening heavy rainfall that will lead to catastrophic flooding, damaging winds, storm surge and a number of other economic factors.

The AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes is a 6-point scale with ratings of less than 1 and 1 to 5. In contrast to the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which classifies storms by wind speed only, the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes is based on a broad range of important factors. In order to better communicate a more comprehensive representation of the potential impact of a storm to lives and livelihoods, the scale covers not only wind speed, but also flooding rain, storm surge and economic damage and loss. Some of these hazards, such as inland flooding and storm surge, in many storms result in more deaths and economic loss than wind.

Tropical Storm Iota developed Friday afternoon in the central Caribbean just hours after the system had become Tropical Depression 31. Iota strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane early Sunday morning and officially became the 13th hurricane of the season. 2020 is now just two shy of the record number of hurricanes to churn in the Atlantic in one season held by 2005.

In fact, this is the first time the NHC has ever gotten this far into the Greek alphabet during a tropical season.

Iota strengthened into a the sixth major hurricane — Category 3 or greater — of the season early Monday morning. Five other major hurricanes churned in the Atlantic this season: Laura, Teddy, Delta, Epsilon and Eta.

According to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University, 2020 is now in a seven-way tie for the second-most major hurricanes in an Atlantic hurricane season. Other years that have had six major hurricanes include 1926, 1933, 1950, 1996, 2004 and 2017. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season holds the record for the most major hurricanes, with seven total so far.

Possibly even more impressive is how rapidly Iota managed to strengthen over less than 12 hours. On Sunday at 4 p.m. EST, Iota had sustained winds of 90 mph and was considered a Category 1 hurricane. By 1:40 a.m. EST Monday, Iota was a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph.

2020 set the record for the most tropical storms to be named in one Atlantic hurricane season as Theta became the 29th tropical storm of the season last week. Theta has since lost wind intensity and has dissipated, after swirling between the Azores and the Canary Islands Sunday morning.