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Hurricane Julia hits Nicaragua with torrential rainfall

Tropical Weather Julia
Posted at 6:41 PM, Oct 08, 2022

MEXICO CITY — Tropical Storm Julia gained more strength moving westward in the southern Caribbean on Saturday as authorities prepared for a possible hurricane on Colombian islands and in Nicaragua.

Julia's maximum sustained winds had increased to 70 mph (110 kph) Saturday afternoon, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The storm was centered about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east of Providencia Island and moving west at 17 mph (28 kph).

Julia was forecast to pass near or over Colombia’s San Andres and Providencia islands Saturday night on its way to landfall in Nicaragua on Sunday morning.

Tropical Weather Julia
This Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022 satellite image made available by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Julia, bottom right, at 4 p.m. EDT. Julia is gaining strength heading westward in the southern Caribbean, and authorities are preparing for a possible hurricane on Colombian islands and in Nicaragua. (NOAA via AP)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro declared a “maximum alert” on the islands and asked hotels to prepare space to shelter the vulnerable population. Officials on San Andres imposed a curfew for residents at 6 a.m. Saturday to limit people in the streets. Air operations to the islands were suspended.

Similar precautions were underway in the central area of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, where authorities issued an alert for all types of vessels to seek safe harbor.

Nicaraguan soldiers began preparing the evacuation of inhabitants of islands and cays around the town of Sandy Bay Sirpi. The army said it delivered humanitarian supplies to the municipalities of Bluefields and Laguna de Perlas for distribution to 118 temporary shelters.

Forecasters said a greater threat than Julia’s winds were rains of 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) — up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas — that the storm was expected to dump across Central America.

“This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides through this weekend," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

The storm's remnants were forecast to sweep across Nicaragua and then skirt by the Pacific coasts of El Salvador and Guatemala, a region already saturated by weeks of heavy rains.

In Guatemala, officials said Julia could drench 10 departments in the east, center and west of the country — an area that has been most affected by this rainy season and where the poorest people are concentrated.

From May to September, storms have caused 49 confirmed deaths and six people are missing. Roads and hundreds of homes have been damaged, Guatemalan officials say.

In El Salvador, where 19 people have died this rainy season, the worst rainfall is expected Monday and Tuesday, said Fernando López, the minister of environmenta and natural resources. Officials said they had opened 61 shelters with the capacity to house more than 3,000 people.