Tropical Storm Alma made landfall on Thursday on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast and blew through to Nicaragua, where 35,000 people were being evacuated.

The Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that a tropical storm warning was in effect for the Pacific Coast of Central America, including Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.

The eye of the storm was 85km west-northwest of Managua and about 280km east-south-east of San Salvador. According to the NHC report, it was moving northward at 15km an hour and was expected to turn northwest by yesterday.

Maximum sustained winds were near 100kph, with higher gusts.

The storm was expected to weaken overnight as it continued to move inland.

Nicaraguan civil defense boss Mario Perez-Cassar said that some 3,000 personnel had been deployed in low-lying areas, alongside military and police officers and Red Cross workers.

He said that 225 "critical points" were identified in the western provinces of Leon and Chinandega, with 23 municipalities at risk of suffering severe flooding, mudslides and flashfloods.

"We have a few hours to take away as many people as possible," Perez-Cassar said.

He said that 25,000 people were to be evacuated first, with another 10,000 to follow.

Schools were closed on Thursday and yesterday in the provinces of Leon and Chinandega, in the southern provinces of Carazo and Rivas and in Managua.

Alma took authorities by surprise, having formed at an unusual location and time of year and surging in strength from a tropical depression to a powerful storm system within a few hours.

It dumped heavy rains across Central America.

Along Costa Rica's Pacific coast, particularly in Parrita and Quepos, 250 people suffered damage to their property and had to move into emergency shelters.

The Costa Rican soccer championship final between archrivals Alajuela and Saprissa was postponed on Thursday.