Central America, C’bean brace as Hurricane Eta rapidly intensifies to Cat. 3

Eta became a major hurricane after it rapidly intensified into a Category 3 storm today.

This GeoColor satellite image taken Monday shows Hurricane Eta in the Gulf of Mexico approaching the border of Honduras and Nicaragua. (NOAA via AP)

The 28th named storm of the season only achieved hurricane status this morning but has quickly strengthened, packing life-threatening storm surge and catastrophic winds, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Maximum sustained winds for the storm were recorded at 195 kilometres per hour, as it heads towards Central America where warnings of flash flooding and landslides have been issued.

Hurricane Eta was located 135 kilometres east of Cabo Gracias A Dios on the Nicaragua/Honduras border at 1:00 pm EST.

Eta is forecast to approach the northeastern coast of Nicaragua later today, and make landfall in the Sandy Bay Sirpi area that bordered the two countries. The system is expected to continue strengthening and weaken after it moves inland.

According to the NHC, catastrophic wind damage is expected starting this evening. Eta will produce rainfall of between 15 and 25 inches in Nicaragua and Honduras until Friday, with several other countries – including Guatemala, Belize, Panama and Costa Rica – bracing for between 10 to 20 inches.

Additionally, flash flooding and river flooding are possible in Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands which will also get several inches of rainfall.