Hurricane Julia hits Nicaragua, causing flooding and damage as it moves over Central America
Hurricane Julia made landfall in Nicaragua over the weekend as high winds, heavy rains and local flooding battered the country, knocking out power in some areas as some residents were preemptively evacuated to shelters .
The storm system is now moving into the Pacific Ocean, but will still bring severe weather to parts of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico early this week.
“These rains could cause flash flooding and life-threatening mudslides across Central America today,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.
By Saturday evening, Julia had upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane as it passed over San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Island, all of Colombia’s islands in the southwestern Caribbean.
The storm made landfall in Nicaragua before dawn Sunday morning with winds around 85 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour).
Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said parts of the country had lost power and nearly 10,000 people had been evacuated to shelters, according to The Associated Press. In San Andres, Colombian officials reported downed trees and ripped roofs atop some homes, they add.
No deaths were reported in Colombia or Nicaragua, AP reported. Colombian President Gustavo Petro said on Twitter that two people had been injured, two houses destroyed and 101 houses damaged in San Andres.
Photos from Central American countries show local damage such as flooded streets, fallen trees and damaged homes. Besides Nicaragua, the impact of the storm has spread to the neighboring countries of Honduras and Costa Rica.
By noon Sunday, Julia had been downgraded to a tropical storm as it weakened over land. The storm was again downgraded to a tropical depression on Monday as it tracked towards El Salvador and Guatemala and is expected to dissipate later in the evening.
On Monday, parts of those two countries could expect between 5 and 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain, with isolated places receiving up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain, the NHC warned.
Western Honduras and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico could expect up to 25cm of rain today and tomorrow, and flash flooding is possible across the Isthmus through Tuesday, the official said. NHC.
Parts of Nicaragua will have received up to 15 in (38 cm) of rain by the time the weather clears completely.
Julia was the fifth hurricane and tenth named storm in what has become an active hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.
While the summer was unusually calm for tropical storm systems, September and October were very busy as massively destructive storms like Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian made landfall.
Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in Florida late last month as a near-Category 5 storm, was particularly deadly, killing at least 120 people in Florida – the deadliest hurricane in state for almost a century.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had predicted an “above normal” season for hurricane activity this year, with 14 to 20 named storms and up to 10 hurricanes, including three in six or more Category 3 hurricanes.
Hurricane season begins in June and lasts until November, usually peaking in mid-September.
While hurricanes may not be getting more frequent, climate scientists expect them to get much stronger as the climate crisis deepens.
Warmer ocean surface temperatures can quickly turn a storm into a massive and dangerous cyclone, much like what happened with Hurricane Ian as it moved through the very warm waters of the Caribbean. and the Gulf of Mexico.
A United Nations climate science group has found that the percentage of storms reaching category 3 or higher has increased over the past four decades.