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Hurricane Julia hits Central America

October 9, 2022

The Category 1 hurricane prompted thousands of people in Nicaragua to leave their homes. It was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

Residents leaving their houses in El Progreso, Honduras.
Julia is classified as a category 1 hurricaneImage: Wendell Escoto/AFP

Hurricane Julia made landfall on the eastern coast of Central America on Sunday.

Julia passed the Colombian island of San Andres before hitting the coast of Nicaragua just north of Bluefields with maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour), the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Julia's winds had dropped to 70 mph by late Sunday morning as it moved through Nicaragua, accompanied by heavy rains. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded Julia back to a tropical storm.

"Life-threatening flash floods and mudslides possible from heavy rains over Central America and Southern Mexico through early next week," the NHC had previously warned.

Julia rips through Nicaragua

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo told TN8 television that there had been no reports of casualties so far. She added that power and communications were cut in some areas.

President Gustavo Petro said there had been "light damage" on the Nicaraguan Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia.

Murillo said that 9,500 people had been evacuated to shelters.

Nicaragua's army said it had delivered humanitarian supplies to the eastern coastal towns of Bluefields and Laguna de Perlas for distribution to over 100 temporary shelters for those evacuated.

Thousands evacuate before landfall

As the hurricane approached, Nicaragua evacuated some 6,000 people in the Laguna de Perlas area, in the Miskito keys located off the coast, and in other zones.

In Bluefields, one of the Nicaraguan towns expected to be affected, fishermen were seen safeguarding their boats before the hurricane hit. Locals rushed to ATMs and stocked up on essentials.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said he hoped "the damage would be less than last time," referring to the destruction from Hurricane Iota in 2020. He called on hotel chains to "open their doors for shelter."

Julia was expected to weaken after making landfall in Nicaragua, before moving north towards the coasts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala on Sunday and Monday, forecasts said.

Julia comes a week after Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, battered Cuba and the US state of Florida. It flattened entire neighborhoods and killed more than 100 people, according to US media. 

Scientists say extreme weather events will happen more frequently as a result of climate change caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels. 

tg, sdi/nm  (AFP, AP, Reuters)