Tropical Storm Julia, a flood hazard for Central America

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  • Julia is moving west into the southern Caribbean Sea.
  • Julia will arrive in Central America on Sunday, likely as a hurricane.
  • It is expected to hit Nicaragua and Honduras first, then spread torrential rains inland.

Tropical Storm Julia will become a hurricane and an inland flood threat for Central America this weekend through early next week.

Julia became the tenth named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season late Friday morning, about two weeks later than Storm “J” arrives in an average season.

Julia is not expected to be a threat to the United States, but a danger to Central America. Here’s what you need to know.

Current status, watches, warnings

Tropical Storm Julia is moving rapidly westward away from northern South America.

Hurricane warnings are now in effect for parts of Nicaragua’s central coast and for the Colombian islands of San Andres, Providencia and the Santa Catalina Islands near Nicaragua. That’s where hurricane-like conditions are expected by Saturday evening, and tropical storm-force winds could arrive as early as Saturday afternoon.

A hurricane watch is now in effect along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, from Bluefields south to Laguna de Perlas and from Puerto Cabezas north to the Honduran border. That means hurricane-like conditions are possible Sunday morning, with tropical storm-force winds moving in Saturday evening.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for much of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and are monitoring part of the Caribbean coast of Honduras from the border with Nicaragua to Punta Patuca. Tropical storm conditions are possible in this area Sunday morning.

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At present, this system poses a threat of heavy rains and tropical storms in northern Colombia. Heavy rain triggered floods in Trinidad and Tobago Wednesday.

Julia’s Threats

Heavy rain will be Julia’s biggest threat to Central America starting this weekend and into next week as her remnant moves inland.

Parts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama could receive more than 15 inches of rain this weekend through early next week, according to the National Hurricane Center. This could trigger flash floods and life-threatening landslides in areas of hilly or mountainous terrain.

Additional heavy rains will also spread to parts of Guatemala, Belize and southern Mexico, which could also trigger flash flooding early next week. This rain could last long after Julia dissipates over Central America.

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A dangerous storm surge of up to 6 feet is possible along the Nicaraguan coast on Sunday, and damaging winds are also likely near Julia’s landfall on Sunday along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.

Strong surf and rip currents will be more widespread threats in the Caribbean Sea, from southern Hispaniola and Jamaica to the Cayman Islands, southern Cuba, Belize and east of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, including Cancun and Cozumel.

Where is it going and what is the strength

Julia will organize and strengthen on the southern Caribbean Sea now that she is moving away from the South American coasts.

High pressure aloft will expand westward, acting as a gate, preventing the system from entering the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Therefore, we do not expect the system to pose a threat to the US Gulf Coast.

Wind shear will be weak as Julia moves west over a large pool of deep, warm water in the western Caribbean Sea.

Therefore, we expect Julia to become a hurricane before it arrives Sunday morning.

However, this high pressure aloft will direct Julia towards the coast of Central America, with an expected landfall most likely in Nicaragua. A small portion of the Nicaraguan coast will receive hurricane conditions near this landfall.

(​AFTER: What the Forecast Cone Really Means)

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Current status and projected path

(The area shaded in red indicates the potential path of the center of the tropical cyclone. It is important to note that impacts (especially heavy rain, high waves, coastal flooding, winds) with any tropical cyclone generally spread to the beyond its intended path.)

All interests in Central America should closely monitor these forecasts for updates and prepare their hurricane plans, if necessary.

The primary journalistic mission of The Weather Company is to report on the latest weather news, the environment and the importance of science in our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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