Hurricane Beta makes landfall in Nicaragua

Monday, October 31, 2005

Hurricane Beta hit the Nicaraguan coast early on Saturday, sending powerful rain and winds their way.

Although it lost some speed during landfall, Beta was still a Category 2 hurricane, with winds of up to 110 Mph (175 kph) and was expected to dump up to 15 inches of rain. Residents from the local coastal fishing villages rushed into flimsy makeshift shelters as the hurricane approached.

"We had a very bad night. The water leaked in, the children were cold. They brought us here without telling us anything. We don't have food or water," Norma Smith, a mother of six, said on Sunday morning.

Neighboring Honduras declared a national emergency, and planned to evacuate 125,000 people. However, residents in the isolated coastal regions are usually wary of outsiders, and many failed to heed the warnings.

"These people do not believe in danger until they really feel it," said Col. Mario Perez-Cassar, the head of Nicaragua's civil defense.

Emergency officials say there have been no deaths so far, but the projected path of Beta takes it straight across Nicaragua, raising the possibility of lethal mudslides in mountainous areas.

Beta, which was not expected to hit the United States, was the 23rd hurricane this year, more than any Atlantic season on record. This season has also seen more storms than at any point since record-keeping began in 1851. The previous record of 21 was set in 1933.

Last week Tropical Storm Alpha formed, the first time a letter from the Greek alphabet has been used because the list of storm names was exhausted.