Hurricane Otto Threatens the Coast of Nicaragua
Hurrican Otto, a unique and rare meteorology event is about to unfold along the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In over 150 years of records, there has never been a Hurricane to make a direct hit in this area. As a matter of fact, this is the first direct hurricane on record to slam into the coast of Costa Rica. It is also the furthest south hurricane to hit Nicaragua.
According to forecast issued by the National Hurricane Center, the center of the storm will come ashore near the Rio San Juan Delta. This is a low lying area with sandbars and swamps. The area is vulnerable to storm surge. A three or four foot surge will flood entire coastal towns, such as Greytown.
I had the opportunity to be in San Juan del Norte in late November, 2014, during a passing cold front. It rained cats and dogs, and that was enough to leave half of the town flooded. The rain, together with the storm surge will not be a nice scene. The mighty San Juan River will most likely increase its flow due to the rain. This will create a situation where the river will jump its banks when the sea level rises due to the storm surge.
If you are heading to San Juan de Nicaragua, or the Rio San Juan area, consider rescheduling your visit. The area around El Castillo and Boca de Sabalos should fare a lot better. However, there will be some serious rain and tropical storm force winds will blow. From what I can see in the forecast, the eye of the storm will follow the San Juan River. Then it will go across Lake Nicaragua and then out to the Pacific, somewhere just due south of San Juan del Sur.
If forecasts come true, Hurricane Otto will be the first Hurricane in the Eastern Pacific basin to keep its name given to it in the Atlantic Basin. Otto will cause severe rains throughout Costa Rica, Nicaragua and even parts of Honduras. There is no doubt that the most significant threat to Nicaragua will be the rain.
Hurricane Otto will make landfall early tomorrow. Yet the strong rain and wind will begin to affect the coast as early as this evening. It is imperative that you take this into consideration. Make sure you find a safe spot to ride the storm, stay away from the coast and far from the river banks. Expect power outages and telephone service interruptions. Internet service should also be an issue.
Take this as advice from a hurricane veteran. I was in Cancun, Mexico in 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert came ashore as a category 5 storm. I was also in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in 1998, when Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras. Above all, keep safe and hunker down! Best of luck!