Otto to threaten Central America with flooding, mudslides and damaging winds

Otto, currently a strong tropical storm, over the southwestern Caribbean Sea, will threaten part of Central America with flooding, mudslides and damaging winds this week.

Otto is roughly 200 miles just off the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua and was beginning to drift toward the west. It became the seventh hurricane of the season Tuesday afternoon. Minor fluctuations in strength will occur prior to the system making landfall.

Otto will drift inland over Central America later this week, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

"Steering winds will cause Otto to take a general westerly path during the middle and later part of this week, which will bring the storm inland over southeastern Nicaragua or northeastern Costa Rica around the middle of the day on Thursday," Kottlowski said.

The storm is likely to move ashore about 150 miles west of the Panama Canal.

Otto will make landfall as a strong tropical storm or a Category 1 hurricane.

Should Otto make landfall in this part of Central America, it will be the latest ever for such an occurrence, according to Kottlowski.

"If Otto makes landfall in Costa Rica as a hurricane, it will also be a first for any time of the year," Kottlowski stated. "On record, only one tropical storm made landfall in Costa Rica but never a hurricane."

Otto to threaten lives and property from Panama to Honduras, El Salvador

Seas and surf will build to dangerous levels over the southwestern Caribbean Sea.

Large ships approaching the Panama Canal should be prepared for rough seas and closely monitor the strength and path of Otto. Small craft, such as fishing vessels in the region should remain in port.

Some coastal inundation will occur near and north of the landfall of the eye.

Areas from central Panama to southern Honduras and El Salvador will be at an elevated risk for life-threatening flash and urban flooding and mudslides.

The storm has already been blamed for three deaths in Panama, the Associated Press reported. Two people were killed in landslides, while a child died after a tree fell on a car.

Winds will be strong enough near the center of the storm and in clusters of thunderstorms farther away from the center to cause sporadic property damage and power outages later this week.

Because of the slow movement of the storm, there will also be the risk of river flooding in the region.

People should not attempt to drive though flooded roads and be prepared to move to higher ground as the situation warrants.

Otto will weaken crossing the mountainous terrain of Central America.

However, the circulation center of the storm may survive into the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Over the eastern Pacific, if the old center holds on, then Otto will retain its name. However, if the center of Otto diminishes, but a new center develops, then a new name will be given to the storm.

( Source )

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