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Rain-heavy Tropical Storm Eta strengthened on Sunday as it headed for a drenching collision with Central America. The system ties the record for the most named storms in an Atlantic hurricane season.

Eta had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was centred about 345 miles (560 kilometres) east of the Nicaragua-Honduras border and was heading westward at 15 mph (24 kph).

Forecasters expect Eta to become a hurricane by Monday and it was forecast on Tuesday to hit the Nicaraguan coast, where a hurricane warning was posted.

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Forecasters said central and northern Nicaragua into much of Honduras could get 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 millimetres of rain, with 35 inches (890 millimeters) in isolated areas.

Heavy rains also are likely in eastern Guatemala, southern Belize and Jamaica.

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 in 2005, after the season ended meteorologists went back and determined there was 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.

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