In a one-two punch, Hurricane Iota roared ashore as a dangerous Category 4 storm along almost exactly the same stretch of Nicaragua's Caribbean coast that was devastated by an equally powerful Hurricane Eta 13 days earlier.
Iota had intensified into an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm during the day Monday, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center said it weakened slightly as it neared the coast late Monday and made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph (250 kph). It hit the coast about 30 miles (45 kilometers) south of the Nicaraguan city of Puerto Cabezas, also known as Bilwi.
People hunkered down in Bilwi even before the hurricane arrived, already battered by screeching winds and torrential rains.
Business owner Adán Artola Schultz braced himself in the doorway of his house as strong gusts of wind and rain drover water in torrents down the street. He watched in amazement as wind ripped away the metal roof structure from a substantial two-story home and blew it away like paper.
"It is like bullets," he said of the sound of metal structures banging and buckling in the wind. "This is double destruction," he said, referring to the damages wrought by Eta just 12 days earlier. "This is coming in with fury," said Artola Schultz.
Iota came ashore just 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of where Hurricane Eta made landfall Nov. 3, also as a Category 4 storm. Eta's torrential rains saturated the soil in the region, leaving it prone to new deadly landslides and floods, forecasters warned.