Hurricane Julia: Central America on alert

Eva Deschamps / October 9, 2022

Tropical Storm Julia has become a hurricane and is expected to make landfall in Nicaragua by dawn Sunday, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) and local authorities.


Julia became a hurricane with sustained winds of 120 km/h as it passed near the islands of San Andres and Providencia”, which together with Santa Catalina complete a Colombian archipelago of about 48,000 inhabitants in the Caribbean Sea, the U.S. agency announced in a statement.


Nicaragua’s vice president, Rosario Murillo, announced that Julia is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at dawn on Sunday, between Orinoco and Laguna de Perlas, north of the town of Bluefields on the country’s southeast coast.


At midnight GMT, the hurricane was 200 km east of Bluefields and moving at a speed of 28 km / h, said the NHC.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro declared a “maximum alert” in San Andres.


The weekend rainfall could cause potentially deadly “flash floods and mudslides” in Central America, the NHC also warned.


In Bluefields, one of the main towns on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, fishermen were pulling their boats to safety and residents were rushing to stock up on supplies and withdraw cash.


“We have to prepare ourselves with food, a little bit of everything, because we don’t know what is going to happen,” Javier Duarte, a cabinetmaker, told AFP as he prayed that the storm would deflect its path and spare his town and its 60,000 inhabitants.


Nicaragua’s National System for Disaster Prevention (Sinapred) put the entire country on yellow alert Saturday and activated rescue units.


The government evacuated some 6,000 people in the Laguna de Perlas area and other threatened localities.


In Guatemala, 22 departments have been placed on red alert by the civil protection services as the storm approaches, which could also affect Honduras and El Salvador.


In Honduras, the government has announced preventive load shedding of the main hydroelectric dam, El Cajon. Especially since the country has experienced floods and evacuations in late September in the vicinity of San Pedro Sula, the second city and industrial heart of the country, and area now most threatened by Julia.


In El Salvador, authorities declared an orange alert for the entire country, activating rescue units and preventive evacuations in high-risk areas.


In Panama, Civil Protection issued a yellow alert, including in Darien province, a jungle area bordering Colombia that hundreds of migrants cross daily on their way to the United States.


At the end of 2020, hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Central America, leaving at least 200 dead and as many missing, and an estimated multi-million dollar damage.

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