TAMPA, FLA. (WWLP) – Tropical storm Julia strengthened to a category 1 hurricane Saturday evening as it moved toward central America.

Julia’s maximum sustained winds were estimated at 75 miles per hour, according to the national hurricane center. It’s first expected to strike Nicaragua and Honduras, then spread flooding rain inland.

Federal forecasters say life-threatening flash floods and mudslides were possible in Nicaragua and southern Mexico. Officials in Nicaragua have begun preparing for evacuations.

While Colombian president Gustavo Petro declared a “maximum alert” on the islands and asked hotels to prepare space to shelter the vulnerable population.