At least 22 people have been killed as Tropical Storm Nate passed through Central America and now heads to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, authorities said Friday.
Eleven deaths were recorded in Nicaragua and seven others missing, according to Vice President Rosario Murillo.
In Costa Rica, President Luis Guillermo Solís said eight victims were killed and 17 went missing as he has declared a national state of emergency and three days of national mourning.
The storm hit Nicaragua and Honduras after two weeks of heavy rain in the region that caused flooding, landslides and the collapse of several sections of roads, according to local media.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Nate will arrive in Mexico later Friday and could possibly strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane when it passes above the warmer waters of the Caribbean Sea before it makes U.S. landfall late Saturday or early Sunday.
Heavy rains are forecast in southern Honduras and western Nicaragua with as much as 15 inches (38 centimeters) expected.
The current rainy season has been a particularly hard one for the region that has been hit by powerful hurricanes, including Harvey, Maria and Irma that have devastated thousands of homes, flooded entire villages and knocked out electricity networks and roads in several countries.
U.S. forecasters have said Irma was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Puerto Rico, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica have been among the hardest-hit, due in part by the frequency and intensity of the storms that have left some areas uninhabitable.
Climate expert Isabel Cavelier, who is also Colombia’s negotiator at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told Anadolu Agency the occurrence of the powerful storms in the Atlantic can be the result of climate change.
“Since humans have been taking measurements in the Atlantic Ocean, this is the moment that this ocean has been hotter and has the biggest cyclonic activity,” she said. "It is not an anomaly that there are hurricanes or that this is a period of the year in which several of them are presented. What is an anomaly is the intensity and the frequency of the phenomenon.”
Cavelier said the main and probably the biggest consequences of climate change are the intensity and frequency of the phenomena.
“It is due to the higher temperature of the waters in the ocean and increase in temperature that the cyclonic activity is generated,” she said.
Some action could be taken immediately to help reduce the effect of climate change, according to Cavelier.
“On an international level: Put climate change as a priority in government agendas and change urgently our behavior.
“On a personal and home level: use alternative means of transportation like bicycles or mass transit instead of particular vehicles. Avoid the use of plastic and recycle,” she said.