QCOSTARICA – Tropical storm Julia, which is in the Caribbean, and could impact northern Nicaragua according to forecasts, follows the trajectory of two hurricanes in the past that hit Nicaragua as well as Costa Rica.
According to the national weather service, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN), Julia has enormous similarities with Joan and Cesar (Juana and César in Spanish) hurricanes that broke into the Isthmus in 1988 and 1996, respectively.
The IMN points out that Joan and Cesar passed through the coasts of Venezuela.
In 2020, the islands such as Providencia and Santa Catalina (all from Colombia) suffered the devastating passage of Hurricane Iota, which reached category 5.
The cyclone devastated everything in its path in the Caribbean and left 84 dead in Nicaragua, Honduras and Colombia.
Joan and her impact in Nicaragua
On October 10, 1988, Nicaragua suffered the ravages of Hurricane Joan, which entered the Caribbean coast with a category 4, devastating houses, power lines and trees. In the town of Bluefields, 95% of the buildings disappeared.
The official figures spoke at that time of 50 dead, but unofficially there was talk of 200.
Daniel Ortega – who governed at that time – assured that it was “the greatest natural disaster in the history of Nicaragua.”
Joan also affected Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Honduras. In total, 337 deaths were reported.
Cesar was angry with Costa Rica
In the case of Hurricane Cesar, it strongly devastated several countries in the region between the end of July and the beginning of August 1996, despite having reached category 1.
However, the worst damage was recorded in Costa Rica.
Although our country did not receive a direct impact (Cesar entered the Isthmus through the southern Caribbean of Nicaragua), the cyclone’s moisture suction effect and the slowness of its progress caused the meteor to attract a large amount of moisture from the Pacific Ocean.
As a result of the above, Cesar left on his way through Costa Rica, according to official data at the time:
- 34 dead
- 29 missing
- 1,417 homes destroyed
- 170 bridges disabled
The most dramatic case in our country occurred in Llano de La Piedra, in Tarrazú (Los Santos area), where 11 people lost their lives when they were buried by an avalanche.
The government of then-President José María Figueres declared a national emergency due to the impact of the hurricane.
The IMN assures that the case of storm Julia is still uncertain, but for now, it is believed that it would reach category 1 this Saturday afternoon. Its impact is expected in the Caribbean of Nicaragua, just as Joan and Cesar did.
It is expected that with Julia there will be an indirect effect on Costa Rica with a strengthening of the rains in the Pacific. This starts today, Saturday, and during the first days of next week.
The IMN forecasts the following outcome scenarios:
- The least: flooding due to sewage and road congestion due to road closures for short periods.
- The significant: localized flooding in susceptible places as well as falling trees.
- Severe: landslides in mountainous areas and roadsides. Overflow of rivers and streams. Road closures and interruption of basic services.
IMN meteorologist Juan Diego Naranjo Díaz explained that “regardless of the intensity of the cyclone, Julia will begin to interact with the intertropical convergence zone as it approaches the region, generating a constant flow of moisture from the Pacific Ocean towards Costa Rica, a situation that will cause a gradual strengthening of rainfall starting Saturday afternoon, first in the South Pacific and then will spread to the other regions of the Pacific slope.”
The most recent report from the United States National Hurricane Center indicates that the meteorological phenomenon will take on hurricane force this Saturday afternoon.
The IMN reiterates that the impact on Costa Rica will be indirect.
What to expect
For today, Saturday, October 8, Tropical Storm Julia will move through the southwestern Caribbean Sea throughout the day, approaching Central America. This cyclone is forecast to intensify to a hurricane during early Sunday morning off the coast of Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, because of its trajectory, Julia will begin to interact with the Intertropical Convergence Zone as it approaches the region, generating a constant flow of moisture from the Pacific Ocean towards Costa Rica; a situation that will cause a gradual strengthening of rainfall in the afternoon first in the South Pacific and then will spread to the other regions of the Pacific slope.
The influence of this tropical cyclone will last throughout the weekend with rainfall in the Central Valley and the northern sector of the western zone, while on the coasts of Limón and mountains of northern Costa Rica there will be strong gusts, with speeds of up to 50 km/h, and up to 60 km/h for the Pacific and the mountain ranges.
Boater and bathers to be careful due to dangerous waves
The Oceanographic Information Module in Marine Sciences and Limnology (MIOCIMAR) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), asked boaters and swimmers to be extremely careful the next few days.
According to experts, the passage of Julia will cause high swell conditions that will be dangerous, both in the Caribbean and in the Pacific of Costa Rica.
Oceanographer Omar Lizano explained that there will also be swells and a possible rise in sea level.