Tropical Storm Julia could hit Nicaragua and Colombian islands as hurricane

Tropical Storm Julia formed Friday in the Caribbean Sea, triggering hurricane watches and warnings for Nicaragua and Colombian islands. Several Central American countries could also see heavy rainfall and flooding by Monday.

Julia had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and was moving west at 17 mph as of late Friday night, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Julia is “expected to become a hurricane” by the time its eye passes near or over Colombia’s Providencia and San Andres islands on Saturday night, and reaches the Nicaraguan coast Sunday morning, the NHC said.

It’s expected to weaken as it moves over inland Nicaragua Sunday, and then likely dissipate Monday, the NHC said, as its remnants move northwest over Central America.

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However, Julia is expected to bring heavy rainfall to several Central American countries, with the risk of “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

Eastern Nicaragua could see anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of rain, according to the NHC, while San Andres and Providencia could get 6 to 12 inches. Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize are also expected to receive significant rainfall ranging anywhere from 3 to 12 inches.

The storm was about 360 miles east of Providencia Island late Friday night, the NHC said.

Nicaragua’s government issued a hurricane watch from Bluefields to the Nicaragua-Honduras border.

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said via Twitter Friday that the government was preparing shelters on the islands. San Andres authorities announced a curfew on residents beginning Saturday at 6 a.m. to limit people in the streets. Yolanda González, director of Colombia’s Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute said Julia could be a Category 1 hurricane when it passes the islands late Saturday.

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