(CMR) Hurricane Iota packing 160 mph winds has caused significant damage to the Archipelagos of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina early Monday morning. This the first time in recorded history that the islands have been hit by a category 5 hurricane.
The government has confirmed that 98% of Providencia's infrastructure is damaged. The worst damage was caused to the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina – with reports that Santa Cataline has sustained catastrophic damage “with nothing left there”.
Early reports are that the Colombian island chains were “totaled” this morning with over 98% of the buildings damaged on Providencia with Santa Catalina completely devastated. One death has been confirmed with another person missing thus far. Communications with the islands have been cut off almost entirely.
No plane can reach Providencia at this time. The Colombian navy is said to be en route there to provide assistance.
In a matter of several hours, Iota moved from a tropical storm to a category 5 hurricane. In the early morning hours, the eye shifted closer to Providencia as a Category 4 storm after 2:00 a.m.
At 7 a.m. EST, the center of Hurricane Iota was located over the southwest Caribbean Sea about 20 miles (35 km) northwest of Isla De Providencia, Columbia moving at 10 mph.
Communication remains limited for Providencia and most of the footage thus far has come out of San Andres.
The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, said that “it is the first time that a category 5 hurricane has arrived in the country and he assured that constant monitoring is being carried out to serve the islands of San Andrés and Providencia with humanitarian aid, with the one that “communication has been poor”, due to the emergency.
Iota is the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the year and only the second November hurricane to reach category five – the last was in 1932. The storm is now heading to Nicaragua which was just hit by Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.
At 10 p.m. EST, the center of Hurricane Iota was located over the southwest Caribbean Sea about 30 miles (45 km) south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua and about 100 miles (155 km) south of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border.
Iota is moving toward the west near 9 mph (15 km/h) and this motion is expected to continue during the next day or so. On the forecast track, Iota is expected to make landfall in northeastern Nicaragua around midnight and move inland across northern Nicaragua and southern Honduras on Tuesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph (250 km/h) with higher gusts – an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
It was originally claimed by Spain in 1510, a few years after Christopher Columbus voyages in the region. In 1630 English puritans arrived in Providencia but it was abandoned in 1672 and remained that with for about 100 years. In 1822 it was claimed by Colombia.
As of 2018, the population was about 61,280.