This handout satellite image provided by CIRA/CSU & NOAA on Oct 8, 2022 and captured at 14:30 UTC on Oct 7 shows Tropical Storm Julia off the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia. (CIRA/CSU / NOAA / AFP)
MEXICO CITY – Tropical storm Julia turned into a hurricane on Saturday evening as it passed the Colombian island San Andres and headed toward the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/hr), the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
"Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides possible from heavy rains over Central America and Southern Mexico through early next week," the NHC said.
After making landfall in Nicaragua, the hurricane is expected to gradually weaken as it crosses the country, before moving north along the Pacific coasts of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala
The storm is barreling toward Nicaragua "in a hurry," NHC said earlier on Saturday.
The storm was 10 miles (15 kilometers) from San Andres island and about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the Nicaraguan coast, where it is expected to make landfall overnight, according to the NHC.
Central American countries initiated emergency alerts ahead of Julia's arrival, just one week after Hurricane Ian pummeled Cuba and Florida.
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Colombia President Gustavo Petro said in a speech at a regional summit on Saturday afternoon that he hoped "the damage would be less than last time," referring to the destruction in the Caribbean from Hurricane Iota in 2020. He called on hotel chains to "open their doors for shelter."
After making landfall in Nicaragua, the hurricane is expected to gradually weaken as it crosses the country, before moving north along the Pacific coasts of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday and Monday, the NHC said. The storm could bring flash flooding to southern Mexico early next week, NHC said.