The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season threw a late season curveball Tuesday: Hurricane Otto off the coast of Central America.
At 4 p.m., Otto has 75 miles per hour winds and is moving west at 2 miles per hour, but should accelerate in the next few days.
"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 on Thursday", said Kottlowski. Otto continued to strengthen and the National Hurricane Center expects the storm to reach hurricane strength.
Otto becomes the seventh hurricane in an above average season, just over a week before it officially ends on November 30. Costa Rican and Nicaraguan governments have both issued hurricane watches.
The storm 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.
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Colon experienced Otto's impact while it was still a tropical storm, but by late Tuesday afternoon, the storm was elevated to a Category 1 hurricane.
Heavy rains from the storm were blamed for three deaths in Panama on Tuesday, and officials in Costa Rica ordered the evacuation of 4,000 people from its Caribbean coast. Here's a Caribbean satellite loop. Should that be the case, it would be the first hurricane to make landfall in Costa Rica since reliable records began being kept in 1951. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the depression is expected to become a tropical storm later in the day or overnight.
The US National Hurricane Center says Otto is now blowing at about 75 miles per hour (120km/h) as it approaches northern Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua. Normally storms that form in this area of the Caribbean tend to move north and east, but atmospheric conditions this time will make Otto follow a more unusual trajectory.
This portion of Central America is unaccustomed to hurricane landfalls.