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19 Nov 2020 | 12:34 AM UTC

Passing of Hurricane Iota kills one, prompts evacuations November 18

Passing of Hurricane Iota kills one and prompts evacuations on November 18; disruptions to communications expected over the near term

environnement
transport
SLV

Event

Hurricane Iota has caused one fatality and prompted evacuations as it moved into El Salvador on Wednesday, November 18, and later dissipated. Some 880 people were moved from areas deemed as high risk into evacuation shelters across the country. Damages to power infrastructure were caused in Ahuachapán and Chalatenango departments and some 15 communities across the country have been rendered without power. Damage to a small number of properties was also reported in Ahuachapán, Chalatenango, Morazán. Landslides had been reported in parts of San Salvador, San Miguel, and Usulután departments, however, these have been cleared.

Residual disruptions are expected over the medium term as emergency operations are ongoing.

Context

The country's rainy season occurs between June and November, which is also roughly the time period that corresponds to the Atlantic hurricane season; rainfall tends to peak in August and September. Although El Salvador has no Atlantic coastline, the narrow width of Central America at El Salvador's latitude ensures that tropical systems can easily maintain most of their strength while tracking westward into the country from Honduras and Nicaragua. Storms tend to flood low-lying areas and cause unsurfaced roads to become temporarily impassable. More organized systems, depending on intensity, can prove catastrophic in terms of tidal surge, wind damage, flooding, and landslides.

Advice

Those in affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.

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