• Bryan Norcross

Tropical Storm Julia on its way to hurricane strength in the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Julia has moved away from the South American mainland and into an atmospheric environment that is conducive for it to quickly strengthen into a hurricane. It has pushed away the dry air, the upper-level winds are more supportive, and the waters under the storm are plenty warm.

The expectation is that Julia will reach the coast of Nicaragua early tomorrow morning as a Category 1 or possibly a Category 2 hurricane. The Colombian islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina are also in Julia’s direct path.

Julia’s rapid to steady movement is a plus. It means the storm will not linger as other hurricanes have in recent years.

After likely-Hurricane Julia makes landfall tomorrow, the winds will weaken rapidly as the mountainous terrain in Central America disrupts the circulation. Heavy rain is expected over the high terrain, but Julia’s steady forward speed will limit it to some degree. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting up to a foot of rain in isolated locations across Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The remnants of Julia could end up in the Pacific Ocean, where coastal sections will have to stay on alert.

There was some thought that a part of Julia might end up in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Given Julia’s more southern track today, that seems very unlikely. The long-range computer models show a weak low-pressure system developing there next week, but that appears to be unrelated to Julia. In any case, nothing is going to happen quickly. The consensus is that a weak system might develop at the end of next week.

We are reaching the time of year when cold fronts will sweep into the Gulf. We’ll watch to see how strong they are. Healthy fronts can clear the Gulf of tropical systems.

Otherwise, nothing appears to be in the works across the Atlantic.