Iota becomes 30th named storm in a record-breaking season

A satellite photo of Tropical Storm Eta (right) in the Gulf of Mexico, Theta, and a tropical wave to the south that forecasters say has a good chance of becoming Tropical Storm Iota. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Tropical Storm Iota stirred in the Caribbean Sea on Friday evening (Nov 13), becoming the 30th named storm in the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season.

The storm, which was moving west-southwest at 4.8kmh as of 4pm Friday, was expected to strengthen steadily and gain speed over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

The storm could become a major hurricane - Category 3 or above - within the next 36 hours as it approaches the coast of Central America, Mr Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman and meteorologist with the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, said Friday night.

It is expected to approach the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua late Sunday. Rainfall could reach up to 50cm across the northern parts of the two countries.

Iota's formation comes on the heels of Subtropical Storm Theta and Hurricane Eta. Bringing fatal flooding and landslides, Hurricane Eta battered parts of Central America when it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane.

That storm also hit Florida twice, leaving thousands without power and inundating streets and roads. In contrast to Eta, Iota is not predicted to turn north toward the United States, Mr Feltgen said.

Although scientists have not definitively said that global warming has led to more hurricanes, there is consensus that climate change has altered the ways in which hurricanes behave, making 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 record set in 2005, in which 28 storms were strong enough to be named.

After exhausting the 21-name list that was established by the World Meteorological Organization for the hurricane season, meteorologists have resorted to using names from the Greek alphabet.

Mr Feltgen said that "2020 had all the right ingredients to be an exceptionally active season."

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