Eta had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph) and was located about 140 miles (225 kilometers) east of the Nicaragua-Honduras border, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving west at 10 mph (17 kph).
It said the storm could strengthen further and become a major hurricane before running ashore by early Tuesday, likely in Nicaragua, where it could bring rains measured in feet rather than inches.
Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua into much of Honduras could get 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 millimeters) of rain, with 35 inches (890 millimeters) in isolated areas. Heavy rains also were likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.
Storm surge up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) above normal tides was possible for the coast of Nicaragua. The hurricane center also warned of life-threatening flash flooding and landslides in areas with higher terrain.
Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. However, this is the first time the Greek letter Eta is being used as a storm name because after the 2005 season ended, meteorologists went back and determined there had been a storm that should have gotten a name but didn’t.
Hurricane season still has a month to go, ending Nov. 30. And in 2005, Zeta formed toward the end of December.