The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that tropical storm Julia became a hurricane on Saturday night as it crossed the Colombian island of San Andres and moved toward the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua with the highest sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h).

The NHC warned that Central America and Southern Mexico could experience life-threatening flash floods and mudslides through early next week.

Also read: What is the Atlantic hurricane season?

According to a statement made by NHC earlier on Saturday, the storm is moving rapidly toward Nicaragua.

According to the NHC, the storm was only about 10 miles (15 km) from San Andres Island and 140 miles (225 km) from the coast of Nicaragua, where it is projected to make landfall overnight.

Just one week after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on Florida and Cuba, Central American nations issued emergency alerts in advance of Julia’s arrival.

Also read: How to prepare for hurricanes and recover from them

Speaking at a regional forum on Saturday afternoon, Colombian President Gustavo Petro expressed his optimism that “the damage would be less than last time,” alluding to the devastation caused by Hurricane Iota in the Caribbean in 2020. Chain hotels were urged to “open their doors for shelter,” he said.

The hurricane is anticipated to weaken gradually when it hits Nicaragua after making landfall there before heading north on Sunday and Monday along the Pacific shores of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Early next week, the storm may cause flash flooding in southern Mexico, according to NHC.

Also read: 5 different cyclone categories

The Northern Hemisphere’s annual timeframe from June to November when tropical storms are most likely to form in the Atlantic Ocean is known as the Atlantic hurricane season.

This time of year, late summer, is when these particular storms originate because there is the greatest temperature differential between the ocean and the winds above it.