Costa Rica News – Although Thanksgiving is not an official holiday in Costa Rica, there are many expats living there that still celebrate, Otto could make it very interesting.
Tropical Storm Otto, earlier the seventh hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, is about 24 hours away from an extremely rare late November landfall in Nicaragua or Costa Rica, posing a danger of flooding and mudslides in parts of Central America.
Otto was downgraded to a tropical storm Wednesday morning after a Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance mission found the central pressure of Otto was about 7 millibars higher than the National Hurricane Center advisory issued two hours earlier. It’s important to note that the difference in impacts between a 75 mph hurricane and 70 mph tropical storm are negligable.
A hurricane warning continues from Limon, Costa Rica, to Bluefields, Nicaragua.
A hurricane watch is in effect for the coast of Nicaragua north of Bluefields to Sandy Bay Sirpi, and for the coast of Costa Rica south of Limon to the Costa Rica/Panama border. This means that hurricane conditions are possible here.
The National Hurricane Center noted that tropical storm conditions in the hurricane warning area could set in as soon as overnight Wednesday night or Thursday morning, making any preparations more challenging.
Otto is moving slowly west-northwestward, and is now less than 250 miles east of the coast of Nicaragua, as of Wednesday morning.
Otto is expected to speed up its forward motion a tad before landfall, as clockwise steering flow around high pressure building to its north will send this system westward toward the coast of Nicaragua or Costa Rica.
Tropical storm-force winds currently extend up to 60 miles from the center of circulation, making Otto a small tropical cyclone.
Wind shear is expected to be weak to moderate, but sufficient to keep a lid on further significant intensification before landfall. Heat content in the southwest Caribbean Sea is well above average for this time of year, likely contributing to the formation/intensification of Otto.
Otto will landfall, possibly as a rare late-season hurricane, in southern Nicaragua or northern Costa Rica on Thanksgiving Day.
Heavy rain, flash flooding and mudslides will be major concerns for Central America, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Some locations may pick up 20 inches of rain from Otto.
In addition, areas of heavy rain well to the north of the circulation may trigger flooding in parts of Honduras and Belize.
A storm surge from 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels, with large, battering waves riding atop the surge, is expected in areas of the hurricane warning where winds will be blowing onshore in southern Nicaragua or northern Costa Rica. Life-threatening high surf and rip currents will occur through at least Thursday along the Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Near the center of Otto’s track near and a few hours after landfall, some structural damage to homes, downed trees and power outages are expected.
Otto is expected to weaken soon after making landfall, as the circulation is hampered by the higher terrain of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
However, Otto is now expected to survive in some form once it emerges into the eastern Pacific Ocean, but will then face increasing wind shear and dry air in the eastern Pacific into this weekend.