Hurricane Iota Tears Across Nicaragua as Category 4 Storm

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Hurricane Iota tore across Nicaragua on Tuesday, hours after roaring ashore as a Category 4 storm along almost exactly the same stretch of the Caribbean coast that was devastated by an equally powerful hurricane just two weeks ago.

The extent of the damage was unclear because much of the affected region was without electricity and phone and internet service, and strong winds hampered radio transmissions.

Iota hit the coast about 30 kilometers south of the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, also known as Bilwi.

Preliminary reports from the coast included toppled trees and electric poles and roofs stripped from homes and businesses, but no deaths or injuries, said Guillermo González, director of Nicaragua's emergency management agency.

By midday Tuesday, Iota had diminished to a tropical storm and was moving inland over northern Nicaragua.

It had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (120 kph) and was spinning westward at 12 mph (19 kph).

The storm was forecast to cross into southern Honduras late Tuesday.

Iota came ashore just 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3, also as a Category 4 storm.

Eta's torrential rains saturated the soil in the region, leaving it prone to new deadly landslides and floods, forecasters warned.

It is the record 30th named storm of this year's extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season.

It's also the ninth storm to rapidly intensify this season, a dangerous phenomenon that is happening increasingly more often.

The official end of the hurricane season is Nov. 30.

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