MEXICO CITY (HPD) — Tropical Storm Julia is gaining strength as it moves toward the western Caribbean as authorities prepare for it to hit the Colombian islands and turn Nicaragua into a hurricane.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased to 45 mph (75 km/h) on Friday night, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Its vortex was about 360 miles (575 kilometers) east of the Colombian island of Providencia and was moving west at 17 mph (28 km/h).
According to the forecast, Julia would pass near or over the Colombian islands of San Andrés and Providencia on Saturday night and make landfall in Nicaragua early on Sunday.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro said via Twitter that the government was preparing shelters on the islands. San Andrés authorities announced a curfew starting at 6:00 am on Saturday to limit the presence of people on the street.
Yolanda González, director of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia, pointed out that Julia could pass through the islands as a category 1 hurricane.
A greater threat than his were the rains. The meteor is expected to drop 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rainfall across Central America, and up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in isolated areas.
“These rains may cause life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides through this weekend,” the NHC said.
The remnants of the hurricane are expected to pass through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and southern Mexico, a region already saturated from weeks of heavy rain.