Tropical Storm Julia, which formed along the northern coast of Venezuela at 11 a.m. EDT Friday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and bring dangerously heavy rains to much of Central America and southeastern Mexico. Julia is forecast to make landfall in Nicaragua on Sunday morning.
Julia’s formation date of October 7th comes about two weeks after Season 10’s typical September 22nd appearance.the named storm. This season’s activity now stands at 10 named storms, four hurricanes and two major hurricanes, with an accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) index of 78% of the average for the date. the Averages 1991-2020 for October 7 there are 11.6 named storms, 5.6 hurricanes, and 2.5 major hurricanes. So despite Ian’s catastrophic rampage, the Atlantic as a whole still has a slightly less active season than usual.
Julia formed in an unusual place for a tropical cyclone: very close to the coast of Venezuela. As a tropical depression, between 11 pm EDT Thursday and 8 am EDT Friday, Julia passed over two peninsulas of Venezuela, the Paraguana Y Guajira, which juts north into the Caribbean. Only one other tropical cyclone on NOAA records has made it farther south toward Venezuela: Tropical Storm Brett (1993), which moved en masse into the interior of northern Venezuela and produced devastating floods, killing more than 200 people.
On Friday afternoon, Julia brought severe thunderstorms to northern Venezuela and Colombia, as seen in satellite images. Julia had a modest number of intense thunderstorms that gradually increased in area coverage and organization, and substantial low-level spiral bands began to occur. However, proximity to the South American coast was interfering with development.
Forecast for Julia
A ridge of high pressure to the north of Julia will keep it moving on a westward track at about 15 mph through early next week, with its center off the coast of South America through Friday afternoon. Except for its proximity to land, conditions for Julia’s development will be favorable, with warm waters approaching 29.5 degrees Celsius (85°F), moderate wind shear of 10 to 15 knots, and a humid atmosphere (a mid-level relative humidity of 75-80%).
Models agree on Julia’s forward speed, with the storm gradually slowing from its current forward speed of 18 mph to about 12 mph by the time it makes landfall in Nicaragua on Sunday morning. Once Julia is inland, models indicate a possible curve to the west-northwest, which would keep the center over land until it dissipates. The models are closely grouped in their track forecast for Julia, and it is highly likely to make landfall in Nicaragua, with the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia off the coast of Nicaragua also at risk.
After Julia moves off the coast of South America on Friday afternoon, a period of steady strengthening is expected, with a more rapid burst of strengthening possible Saturday through early Sunday. The western Caribbean this weekend will have conditions favorable for Julia to become a hurricane, and this part of the Atlantic is known for seeing some wacky rapid-intensifying events. Friday 6Z runs of the two highest intensity models, the HMON and HWRF, show Julia reaching Category 2 strength in 100mph winds at landfall Sunday morning in Nicaragua. As of 12:00 noon on Friday, the statistically-based rapid intensification tools SHIPS and DTOPS gave near 30 percent odds that Julia would be near hurricane strength by Saturday morning, and SHIPS gave a 29 percent probability. percent chance that Julia would have sustained winds of 105 mph. (category 2) on Sunday morning.
Heavy rains the main threat
The main threat from Julia will be its dangerously heavy rains of 5 to 10 inches, with some higher amounts, expected across much of Central America and southeastern Mexico beginning Saturday. Much of Central America, including the part of eastern Nicaragua where the heaviest Julia rains will fall, has been relatively dry for the past three months, receiving 50 to 80% of average rainfall. However, the arrival of heavy rains in northwestern Honduras will not be welcomed: the region is dealing with flooding as a result of the heavy rains that hit during the last week of September. That flooding of the Ulúa River in the Sula Valley killed 12 people and He directed to the evacuations of 16,000 people. Saturated soils in the region will cause more flooding if significant Julia rains fall. The Friday 0Z run of the European model (Figure 3) predicted that Julia would bring rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches in 5 days to northwestern Honduras.
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