Hurricane Julia slams Nicaragua, menaces Central America
Hurricane Julia swept across Nicaragua on Sunday, ravaging the country with winds and heavy rain, and brought potentially life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides to much of Central America.
Maximum sustained winds were estimated at 140 kilometers per hour when the storm made landfall near the Laguna de Perlas area at 0715 GMT, the country’s weather bureau said.
By late morning, the season’s fifth Atlantic hurricane had weakened somewhat to a tropical storm with sustained winds of nearly 70 miles per hour as it churned westward over Nicaragua.
But the U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Julia — whose center at 1500 GMT was some 65 miles northeast of the capital Managua — still dealt a blow, not only to Nicaragua but to neighboring countries as well.
“This rainfall could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides across Central America today and Monday,” with dangerous conditions also reaching southern Mexico, the NHC said in its latest advisory.
Julia was expected to appear off the Pacific coast Sunday evening, then shift northwest to “parallel the Pacific coasts of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala tonight and Monday.”
Julia maintains her tropical storm strength and is expected to produce five to 10 inches (12.7 to 25.4 centimeters) of rain in Nicaragua and El Salvador, with insulated pockets receiving as much as 15 inches.
Hours earlier, fishermen in Bluefields, Nicaragua, one of the main coastal towns ravaged by the storm, were busily securing their boats as people rushed to run errands and withdraw cash from ATMs.
According to AFP photographers in the city, hurricane winds and heavy rainfall began to be felt around midnight, while state media reported detached roofs, fallen trees and power outages.
Before reaching Nicaragua, Julia passed through a trio of Colombian islands, an environmental ministry official told AFP, causing rain and lightning in the north of the country.
Julia was a Category 1 hurricane on the low end of the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale when it roared ashore in Nicaragua.
Authorities have evacuated some 6,000 people in Laguna de Perlas, in the Miskito Keys off the coast and in other areas.
“We have to prepare with food, plastic, a little bit of everything because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Javier Duarte, a cabinetmaker in Bluefields, told AFP.
The municipality of about 60,000 inhabitants has many fragile structures.
Julia’s arrival in Central America comes less than two weeks after deadly Hurricane Ian crashed into the southeastern US state of Florida, in one of the most powerful US hurricanes on record.
The Category 4 storm devastated entire neighborhoods on the southwest coast of the Sunshine State. More than 100 people were killed, according to US media.
Hurricane Orlene hits Mexico’s Pacific coast
© 2022 AFP
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