UPDATE: 5:09 a.m. EST — Hurricane Otto weakened to a tropical storm early Friday after making landfall on Nicaragua's southeastern coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm battered Nicaragua with powerful winds and torrential rains, damaging several houses and forcing thousands of evacuations, and claiming several lives.
In Costa Rica, President Luis Guillermo Solis said late Thursday that several people had died, while many remained missing. However, the number of casualties could not be confirmed.
Hurricane Otto increased to a Category 2 storm, multiple reports said Thursday. It’s moving toward the Caribbean coast border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Winds have reached nearly 105 mph. It might strengthen before it makes landfall. It will probably touch down in southern Nicaragua. Since record keeping began, a hurricane has never touched down in Costa Rica.
That's not the only first: Otto is the strongest hurricane this late in the season since 1934, Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach tweeted Thursday. His message was shared dozens of times by his nearly 9,000 followers.
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) November 24, 2016
Hurricane Otto should weaken after it hits land and could become a tropical storm by Thursday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
There is a danger of mudslides and flooding in parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Weather.com added.
Four thousand people were evacuated from their homes along the Caribbean coast, ABC News reported. School was canceled for the rest of the week. In Nicaragua, 10,000 people were evacuated and school was also canceled.
The heavy rain Hurricane Otto brought to the area is responsible for the deaths of three people in Panama.
The inclement weather poses a threat for impoverished farmers and to coffee crops that are nearly ready to be harvested. Otto “could seriously jeopardize food security for small-holder farmers who rely on maize, beans, cocoa, honey, coffee and livestock for their livelihoods,” Jennifer Zapata, a regional director for Heifer International, a U.S.-based anti-poverty group, told ABC News Thursday.
By Thursday morning, the center of the hurricane was about 70 miles north of Limon, Costa Rica, and moving west at nearly 8 mph, the Associated Press wrote.
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