Hurricane IOTA generates catastrophic damage by placing it in category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale

In the last week, a large part of the coastal areas of countries located in Central America and islands of the Caribbean have been affected by the impacts of the Hurricane Iota, meteorological phenomenon that was initially qualified as Tropical Depression by the National Hurricane Center (NHC-USA), However, with the passing of the days its displacement, wind speed and destructive effect, place it as Hurricane category 5 in the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

The Saffir-Simpson scale, designed in 1969 by Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson, both former NHC officials, has been used to monitor the speed that the winds of Hurricane Iota have reached, going from category 1 by generating minimal damage in Honduras with winds between 120 and 150 km/h, and then increase its intensity to the category 2, creating moderate damages in the communities of Tapón de los Oros, Bajos de Baracoa, and Cortés with winds that oscillated between 150 and 175 km/h.

NHC Prognosis

Hurricane Iota continued to cause havoc as it approached land in northern Nicaragua in the category 3, establishing in its wake extensive damage by registering accelerated displacement, which allowed it to cover greater distances and increase wind speed between 175 and 210 km/h, the NHC forecasts that Iota would continue to advance were correct, as it impacted the town of Puerto Cabezas and caused extreme damage with winds over 210 and 250 km/h (category 4).

The most serious damage and catastrophic condition generated by Hurricane Iota, occurred last Monday 16/11/2020 in the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, when it was located in the category 5, peak of the Saffir-Simpson scale, with a range above 250 km / h, these winds and heavy rains have also impacted with the same intensity the region of Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, where landslides buried dozens of homes in the community of Quejá.

Fig. 2 Hurricanes cause catastrophic damage when they reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Image of public domain, Author: Free-P, 2015

Contact with warm Atlantic waters

Having already reached the maximum category of the Saffir-Simpson scale, the situation tends to be alarming, this is because, the accelerated displacement positions Hurricane Iota, as an extremely dangerous meteorological phenomenon, additionally according to the forecasts, it is believed that it can diminish in intensity, however, the contact with the warm waters of the Atlantic constitutes a fuel for its strengthening, in front of this context of unexpected behavior, the recommendable thing is that the affected states adopt plans of warnings and programs of early alert, that in the possible thing they avoid more human losses.


[1] Deutsche Welle. Iota se convierte en huracán categoría 5 y siembra terror en Centroamérica. Electronic address

[2] BBC News Mundo. Iota: el mayor huracán de 2020 en el Atlántico golpea con fuerza la costa noreste de Nicaragua. Electronic address

[3] MC Trending. Huracán Iota: Resumen de todo lo acontecido con la tormenta tropical. Electronic address


The cover image was designed by the author: @lupafilotaxia, incorporating the background Public domain image