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Slightly weaker Otto heads for Central America with torrential rains
Published on November 24, 2016Email To Friend    Print Version

On November 22 at 2:24 pm EST the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of Otto as it was strengthening into a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea. NASA/NOAA/MODIS Rapid Response Team

By Caribbean News Now contributor

MIAMI, USA -- Late season tropical cyclone Otto weakened slightly from hurricane force to a tropical storm as it took aim at Costa Rica and Nicaragua in Central America.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 4:00 pm EST on Wednesday, the centre of Tropical Storm Otto was located about 140 miles (230 km) northeast of Limon, Costa Rica, and about 180 miles (285 km) east-southeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua, moving toward the west near 7 mph (11 km/h). This general motion is expected for the next couple of days with an increase in speed on Thursday. On the forecast track, the centre of Otto will move onshore on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds remain near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Otto is forecast to become a hurricane again on Thursday before weakening over Central America after landfall. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the centre.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Limon, Costa Rica, to Bluefields, Nicaragua. A hurricane watch is in effect for north of Bluefields to Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua, and south of Limon to the Costa Rica/Panama border. A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Bluefields to Sandy Bay Sirpi, Nicaragua, San Andres and Puntarenas, Costa Rica, to Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua. A tropical storm watch is in effect for west of Colon, Panama to the Costa Rica/Panama border.

Total rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of 15 to 20 inches, can be expected across northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua through Thursday. These rains will likely result in life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Outer rain bands from Otto are expected to produce rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over San Andres and Providencia islands, and the higher terrain of central and western Panama and southern Costa Rica through Wednesday.

Hurricane conditions are expected within the hurricane warning area on Thursday, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin late Wednesday night or Thursday morning, making outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are expected on San Andres on Wednesday evening. Tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua on Wednesday night and Thursday.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and large and destructive waves could raise water levels by as much 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore flow within the hurricane warning area.

Swells generated by Otto are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions over the next several days along the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
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