NOAA via AP
MEXICO CITY – Hurricane Julia swept just south of the Colombian island of San Andrés on Saturday night shortly after strengthening from a tropical storm, as Nicaraguans rushed to prepare for the storm to make landfall overnight on the coast. Their Caribbean.
After gaining strength throughout the day, Julia’s maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph (120 km/h) on Saturday night, the US National Hurricane Center said.
The center of the storm was centered about 20 miles (30 km) west-southwest of San Andrés and 125 miles (200 km) east-northeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It is moving west at 17 mph (28 km/h).
Colombian President Gustavo Petro declared a “maximum alert” for San Andrés as well as the northern islands of Providencia and ordered hotels to prepare spaces to shelter vulnerable populations. Officials in San Andrés imposed a curfew on people at 6 a.m. Saturday to limit people on the streets. Air operations to the islands have been suspended.
Similar precautions are being taken in the central part of Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, where authorities issue warnings to all types of vessels looking for safe harbor. The storm followed a common path to the Bluefields and Pearl City areas.
Nicaraguan soldiers were deployed to help evacuate residents on islands and bays around the town of Sandy Bay Sirpi. The military said it had delivered humanitarian supplies to Bluefields and Laguna de Perlas for distribution to 118 temporary shelters.
Forecasters say a bigger threat than Julia’s winds are 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain – up to 15 inches (38 cm) in isolated areas – that the storm expected to pour through Central America.
“This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides throughout the weekend,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The remnants of the storm are forecast to sweep across Nicaragua and then pass over the Pacific coasts of El Salvador and Guatemala, an area saturated by weeks of heavy rain.
In Guatemala, officials say Julia could dig 10 agencies deep in the east, center and west of the country – the region hardest hit by this year’s rainy season and home to many of the poor. best.
From May to September, storms left 49 confirmed deaths and 6 missing. Guatemalan officials say roads and hundreds of homes have been damaged.
In El Salvador, where 19 people have died this rainy season, the worst rainfall is expected on Monday and Tuesday, said Fernando López, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. Officials say they have opened 61 shelters with a capacity of more than 3,000 people.