MEXICO CITY (AP) – Hurricane Julia slammed into Nicaragua’s central Caribbean coast Sunday and dumped torrential rains across Central America ahead of an expected resurgence over the Pacific.
Julia made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h), although its winds had dropped to tropical storm strength of 50 mph (85 km/h) by late afternoon in the afternoon as he pushed Nicaragua.
The US National Hurricane Center said Julia was centered about 45 miles (75 kilometers) west-northwest of Managua, the capital, and was moving west at 16 mph (26 km/h).
He said life-threatening flooding and landslides were possible across Central America and southern Mexico through Tuesday, with the storm expected to bring up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain to isolated areas.
Colombia’s national disaster agency reported Sunday that Julia blew off the roofs of several houses and downed trees as it ripped through San Andres Island in eastern Nicaragua. There were no immediate reports of casualties
In Nicaragua, Vice President Rosario Murillo told TN8 television that there were no reports of deaths so far, but power and communications were cut in some areas. She said 9,500 people had been evacuated to shelters.
Local news media showed images of downed trees across roads and local flooding.
Heavy rain and evacuations were also reported in Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica, where some highways were closed due to the rain.
Guillermo González, director of Nicaragua’s Disaster Response System, told official media that people at high risk had been evacuated from coastal areas by midday Saturday. The military said it sent humanitarian supplies to Bluefields and Laguna de Perlas to distribute to 118 temporary shelters.
The storm was forecast to blast over the Pacific and cross the coasts of El Salvador and Guatemala, a region already saturated with weeks of heavy rains.
In Guatemala, storms since early May have already caused at least 49 confirmed deaths, with six missing. Roads and hundreds of homes have been damaged, Guatemalan officials say.
In El Salvador, where 19 people have died this rainy season, the worst rains are expected on Monday and Tuesday, said Fernando López, the environment and natural resources minister. Officials said they had opened 61 shelters with the capacity to house more than 3,000 people.