Central American countries were preparing yesterday Monday for the tropical storm Pilar, which has formed in the Pacific Ocean and already claimed the lives of two people in El Salvador.

“We expect Pilar to continue to strengthen over the next few days and may reach near hurricane strength,” the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned, predicting heavy rain, flash flooding and rough seas.

According to the NHC, Pilar is packing winds of up to 85 kilometers per hour and was located about 330 kilometers southwest of San Salvador yesterday.

It is moving between 5 and 10 kilometers per hour and is expected to make landfall today, threatening areas of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and above all El Salvador, where a state of emergency has been declared.

The measure will be applied “throughout the national territory”, not just the areas expected to be affected, namely the coast and the capital, the country’s president Naguib Bukele said via X (the former Twitter).

Schools were ordered to close across the country, activities in coastal areas were restricted, access to beaches and rivers was prohibited. Relief teams have already been deployed and provision has been made for shelters and reception centers for displaced persons.

Authorities reported two deaths from the rain before Pilar even arrived. A 24-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman died while trying to cross a swollen river 200 kilometers east of San Salvador.

In addition, an eighteen-year-old was declared missing on a beach 40 km south of the capital.

In El Salvador of 6.6 million people, 87% of the 20,742 square kilometers of national territory is vulnerable to floods, landslides and earthquakes.

The country was hit in October 2022 by a tropical storm that left 10 dead and extensive crop damage.

25 years ago, Hurricane Mitch, one of the strongest ever to form in the Atlantic, with winds of up to 290 kph, killed around 9,000 people in Central America and caused massive destruction in Honduras.

President Xiomara Castro noted via X that she asked “state institutions responsible for dealing with emergencies” to closely monitor the tropical storm and take precautionary measures.

An emergency weather warning for fishermen has been issued in Nicaragua. While in Guatemala, the national disaster management agency warned that flash floods and landslides may occur.