Rain-heavy Tropical Storm Eta strengthened on Sunday as it headed for a drenching collision with Central America. The system ties the record for the most named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season.
Eta had maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph) on Sunday, the US National Hurricane Center said. It was centred about 560 kilometres (345 miles) east of the Nicaragua-Honduras border and was heading westward at 24 km/h (15 mph).
Forecasters expect Eta to become a hurricane by Monday and it was forecast on Tuesday to hit the Nicaraguan coast, where a hurricane warning was posted.
Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua into much of Honduras could get 380 to 640 millimetres (15 to 25 inches) of rain, with 890mm (35 inches) in isolated areas.
Heavy rains also are likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.
Through Thursday evening, downpours from Eta may cause flooding in parts of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Central America, and potentially landslides, the centre added.
Nicaragua’s government has issued a hurricane warning from the Honduras-Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi. Honduras has put out a tropical storm warning from Punta Patuca to the border with Nicaragua.
Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. However, this is the first time the Greek letter Eta is being used as a storm name because in 2005, after the season ended, meteorologists went back and determined there was a storm that should have gotten a name, but did not.
Hurricane season still has a month to go, ending November 30. And in 2005, Zeta formed toward the end of December.