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Tropical Storm "Alma" alerts Nicaragua | May 29, 2008

Heavy rainfall has affected cities, villages, and coastlines in the Pacific region.
Nicaraguan authorities have declared an alert today, Thursday, May 29, due to the effects of extreme precipitation caused by tropical storm "Alma" on the Pacific fringes of the country. The storm is currently approaching the coast line of the department of León, in the western part of the country.

The rains caused by Alma took on a light form in the Pacific region yesterday, when it was still a tropical depression. This morning, however, Alma was raised to a tropical storm, with heavier precipitation causing flooding in towns of the Pacific departments, for example in parts of Chinandega, León and Managua, according to the news on national television.

According to meteorologist Salvadora Martínez, from the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER), the last official reports indicate that the storm is located 65 kilometers from the coast near Managua. Its displacement was calculated at 11 kilometers an hour, in northeastern direction; the storm is expected to reach land this night, between the towns of Corinto (Chinandega) and Puerto Sandino (León).

Martínez pointed out that, according to the report, the winds at the perimeter of the storm reach a velocity of 100 kilometers an hour and have affected the Pacific litoral. The rain that accompanies the storm has fallen across the country.

During today's morning and afternoon, the media has alerted for the possibility that Alma become a hurricane; some even reported it as a hurricane already. However, INETER indicated that Alma is still a storm, and that its effects might last the rest of today and tomorrow, even though its power will decrease after reaching land. Moderate rains will follow for a while afterwards.

Forces from the Civil Defense of the Nicaraguan Army were sent to the coastal zones that were affected the most, to evacuate the people dealing with flooding and strong winds which have uprooted trees in many parts of the Pacific region.

Risk of mudslides
The General Geophysical Management of INETER warned about the risks of mudslides, caused by the heavy rainfall.

The risks for mudslides, according to the announcement, are highest at volcanoes El Chonco, San Cristóbal, Casita, Telica, Momotombo, Mombacho, Concepción and Maderas, as well as in the region of El Crucero and Las Nubes (Managua), and Tola and San Juan del Sur (Rivas).