Tropical Storm Julia strengthened into a hurricane on Saturday near several Colombian islands and headed toward Nicaragua the National Hurricane Center reported in its 8:00 pm EDT bulletin.

Hurricane Julia was about 20 miles west-southwest of San Andrés, a Colombian island, at 8 p.m. Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, and about 125 miles east-northeast of Bluefields, a municipality in the east coast of Nicaragua, the National Hurricane Center said.

The NHC warned that the rains discharged by the fifth hurricane this season in the Atlantic can cause flooding and landslides in several Central American countries and in southern Mexico.

Once the center of Julia passes near the Colombian archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, the hurricane will reach Nicaragua tonight.

After crossing that country, it will move near the Nicaraguan Pacific coast and those of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala on Sunday.

San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, in Colombia, and the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast, from Bluefields to Puerto Cabezas, are under a hurricane alert.

The hurricane is forecast to strengthen before reaching Nicaragua and to weaken once it has entered inland.

Julia will weaken to a tropical depression on Monday and dissipate later that evening.

In addition to rain and wind, Hurricane Julia is going to generate a storm surge which can raise sea levels up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) and rip currents.

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