Ida drenches Central America, might approach US

AP News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2009 10:00 PM

Former Hurricane Ida drenched Central America as a tropical depression Friday and edged back out over the Caribbean, where forecasters said it had some chance of regaining force and heading toward the United States.

Ida had winds of 75 mph (125 kph) when it hit the central Nicaraguan coast Thursday, but it quickly lost force as it slogged inland and winds were down to about 35 mph (55 kph) Friday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm smashed dozens of flimsy dwellings and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes in sparsely populated eastern Nicaragua. Bridges, schools and electrical transmission towers were damaged, but no deaths were reported.

By Friday evening, Ida had crossed over Honduras as a tropical depression and moved back into the Caribbean heading north toward the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters said it could strengthen into a tropical storm overnight or Saturday morning.

The still tentative forecast track showed Ida grazing the Cancun region of Mexico as a tropical storm Monday morning, then taking aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hurricane center also warned the Cayman Islands to keep an eye on Ida.

Late Friday, the depression was centered about 110 miles (175 kilometers) northeast of Limon, Honduras, and it was moving north at near 7 mph (11 kph).