Tropical Storm Julia expected to become a hurricane by Sunday morning. Here’s where it’s headed

Tropical Storm Julia is continuing to strengthen, and will likely become a hurricane overnight as it makes landfall on the coast of Nicaragua, National Hurricane Center forecasters said Saturday evening.

The storm formed Friday morning approaching the southern Caribbean, a path generally similar to the initial formation of Hurricane Ian.

But while Ian turned north toward the Gulf and then headed toward Florida’s Gulf coast, Julia poses a threat to areas of southern Mexico and Central America, where it could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands Colombia, and Nicaragua from Bluefields to Puerto Cabezas.

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Nicaragua north of Puerto Cabezas to the Honduras/Nicaragua border.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the entire Pacific coast of Nicaragua, the Pacific coast of Honduras, and the entire coast of El Salvador.

Julia is moving west at 17 mph, the hurricane center said in its 5 p.m. update. Additional strengthening is forecast, and the storm could become a hurricane as early as Saturday evening as it reaches San Andres and Providencia Islands. It will likely become a hurricane overnight as it reaches the coast of Nicaragua, forecasters said.

“Environmental conditions favor strengthening this evening and tonight before Julia reaches the coast of Nicaragua, especially if the recent burst of deep convection can remain near or over the center,” the center’s latest advisory said.

As of 5 p.m., Julia was located about 55 miles south of Isla De Providencia, Colombia. It has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from Julia’s center.

Julia is expected to weaken as its center moves inland over Nicaragua on Sunday, but it should be at or near tropical storm strength when it moves off the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. It is then expected to weaken more rapidly as it moves parallel to the coasts of El Salvador and Guatemala Sunday night and Monday. Forecasters predict it will begin to dissipate Monday night.

The next named storm to form would be Karl. Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.