Tropical storm Julia turned into a hurricane on Saturday evening as it passed the Colombian island San Andres and headed toward the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua with maximum sustained winds of 120 km/hr.

Iran PressAmerica: Hurricane Julia swept by just south of Colombia's San Andrés island Saturday evening soon after strengthening from a tropical storm, as Nicaraguans rushed to prepare for the storm's arrival overnight on their Caribbean coast.

After gaining power throughout the day, Julia's maximum sustained winds had increased to 75 mph (120 kph) Saturday evening, the US National Hurricane Center said.

The storm was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) west-southwest of San Andrés and 125 miles (200 kilometers) east-northeast of Bluefields, Nicaragua. It was moving west at 17 mph (28 kph).

Colombia President Gustavo Petro said in a speech at a regional summit on Saturday afternoon that he hoped "the damage would be less than last time," referring to the destruction in the Caribbean from Hurricane Iota in 2020. He called on hotel chains to "open their doors for shelter."

Central American countries initiated emergency alerts ahead of Julia's arrival, just one week after Hurricane Ian pummeled Cuba and Florida. 219

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