Hurricane Ida rips into Nicaragua, weakens to tropical storm

The storm is expected to regain strength when it emerges over the Caribbean on Saturday

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 10 p.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 10 p.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 10 p.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida's five-day forecast as of 10 p.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 7 p.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with the tropical system Ida during the next five days, as of 7 p.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Video from NBC-2

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Hurricane Ida swept onto Nicaragua's Atlantic coast Thursday, destroying homes, damaging schools and downing bridges before losing steam and becoming a tropical storm as it moved inland.

Ida's winds swirled at 75 mph when the storm struck land around sunrise in Tasbapauni, about 60 miles northeast of Bluefields, said meteorologist Dennis Feltgen of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The battering wrecked all but 20 of the 100 or so flimsy, wooden shacks in nearby Karawala, a fishing village near the mouth of the Rio Grande de Matagalpa, Nicaragua's National Civil Defense director, Mario Perez, said.

"There was major damage in the region's infrastructure, such as fallen bridges, damaged schools and government buildings, and electrical transmission towers and telephone service were knocked out," Perez said.

No deaths or injuries had been reported, but Perez said officials were still trying to get information from the sparsly populated, jungle-covered region.

The fast-developing storm grew into a tropical depression and then a hurricane within little more than a day, then lost power as it stalled over eastern Nicaragua, with winds slowing to 40 mph.

Ida could dump as much as 20 inches of rain on the swampy mainland, with the risk of floods and mudslides, before weakening to a tropical depression as early as Thursday night while moving toward Honduras, according to the Miami-based hurricane center.

More than 3,000 people were evacuated before the storm hit — 800 of those from homes on Corn Island and nearby Little Corn Island, where strong winds damaged about 45 homes, smashed boats, toppled trees and knocked out power. Residents were taken to the port authority building and concrete hotels.

About 2,500 people live on the two islands, which are popular tourist destinations.

Rowena Kandler, owner of the Sunrise Hotel on Corn Island, said many fruit trees on the hotel's 13-acre ranch were damaged.

"We don't have electricity or water," she said. "Everything is on the ground now. Thank God we're alive."

The hotel had two guests who rode out the storm Wednesday night, but Kandler said they left for the airport Thursday morning.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated in Bluefields, and the airport closed.

At the Oasis Hotel and Casino, a half block from the shore in Bluefields, receptionist Adelis Molina said winds were strong and guests from the United States, Italy and Guatemala were hunkering down inside.

Heavy rains and winds kept officials from evacuating about 80 people on Cayos Perla, but authorities said they planned to used speedboats to get them out.

The storm is expected to regain strength when it emerges over the Caribbean Sea on Saturday, the center said.

Hurricane Ida strengthens as it batters Nicaragua. The storm's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Hurricane Ida strengthens as it batters Nicaragua. The storm's five-day forecast as of 7 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida, as of 7 a.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Probability of tropical storm force surface winds associated with Hurricane Ida, as of 7 a.m. Thursday. (NOAA)

Poster earlier:

Ida weakens to tropical storm again over Nicaragua

MIAMI — Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm, weakening as it dumps heavy rains over Nicaragua.

The storm was at hurricane strength when it hit the country's Atlantic coast around sunrise Thursday, destroying several dozen homes and forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 people.

On Thursday afternoon, Ida was clocking 65 mph (100 kph) winds. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say it was centered about 75 miles (125 km) north of Bluefields, Nicaragua, and had moved little since making landfall.

No deaths or injuries have been reported because of the storm, which has forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people. Ida was expected to weaken more as it moves across the mainland.

Poster earlier today:

Ida reaches hurricane force near Nicaragua, heading for Gulf of Mexico

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Tropical Storm Ida grew to hurricane force just off Nicaragua's coast on Thursday, forcing more than 2,000 people to flee their homes and knocking out power to some parts of the impoverished region.

The hurricane was forecast to slash into Nicaragua's Atlantic coast within hours, then cut across Honduras before emerging over open water on Saturday — a still-tentative path that could carry it near Mexico's resort of Cancun by midweek.

Ida was centered 60 miles north-northeast of coastal Bluefields early Thursday with winds of 75 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

It could dump as much as 20 inches of rain in parts as it crosses eastern Nicaragua, with the risk of flash floods and mudslides, according to the Miami-based center.

There were no immediate reports of deaths, but Nicaragua's National Civil Defense director Mario Perez said more than 2,000 people had been evacuated — 800 of those from flimsy, makeshift homes on Corn Island and nearby Little Corn Island, where strong winds damaged about 45 homes, toppled trees and knocked out power. Residents were taken to the port authority building and concrete hotels.

About 2,500 people live on the two islands, which are popular tourist destinations.

"There is no electricity on the island and telephone is out and there is little water," Perez said.

About 1,100 people had been evacuated in Bluefields, Perez said.

Heavy rains and winds kept officials from evacuating about 80 people on Cayos Perla, but authorities said they planned to used speedboats to get them out.

Nicaragua issued a hurricane warning for the coast from Bluefields to Puerto Cabezas.

Poster earlier:

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength, batters Nicaragua

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength as it batters a Nicaraguan island. The storm's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

Tropical Storm Ida nears hurricane strength as it batters a Nicaraguan island. The storm's five-day forecast as of 4 a.m. Thursday, shows it moving from Central America into the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Tropical Storm Ida uprooted trees, knocked down power lines and forced the evacuation of 300 people on Nicaragua's Corn Island after forming Wednesday and quickly gaining strength in the southwestern Caribbean.

The storm was threatening to become a hurricane before making landfall in Nicaragua early Thursday morning.

Heavy rains and winds already pounded the popular resort of Corn Island, knocking down trees, electrical lines and telephone poles. Much of the island had lost and phone service, said Lt. Col. Reinaldo Carrion, the civil defense chief in Bluefields, the city nearest to the island.

Some 300 people were evacuated from poorly constructed, mostly wooden homes, Carrion said. They spent the night in offices of the port authority, the navy and some hotels.

"Fixed telephone lines are out, and cell phone and radio communication is difficult, so we don't have a lot of information," he told The Associated Press.

Ton Bos, owner of the Paraiso Beach Hotel on Corn Island, said winds and rain were heavy, but he had seen worse.

"There is a lot of rain, a lot of wind and some trees are coming down, but it's not a catastrophe," Bos told AP by cellular phone. "I've been here four years and it's been worse than this."

"I'll sleep very well tonight," he said.

Ida's maximum sustained winds were at 70 mph early Thursday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The center said weakening is expected once Ida moves inland.

The hurricane center warned of possible life-threatening flash flood and mudslides, saying storm could dump 15 to 20 inches of rain over eastern Nicaragua.

The ninth named storm of the Atlantic season was centered about 60 miles north-northeast of Bluefields and moving northwest near 7 mph.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the eastern coast of Nicaragua from Bluefields to the border with Honduras.

Poster earlier:

Tropical Storm Ida strengthens in southwest Caribbean, hurricane watch issued

MIAMI — Tropical storm Ida is gaining strength in the southwest Caribbean, prompting a hurricane watch for the eastern coast of Nicaragua and storm warnings for two Colombian islands.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the ninth tropical storm of the season took shape Wednesday afternoon. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 65 mph (100 kph).

Forecasters say it could approach hurricane strength before making landfall early Thursday.

The storm’s center is about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It is moving toward the west-northwest near 6 mph (9 kph).

Storm warnings were in effect for the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia.


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