Havana, Aug 28 (EFE).- Tropical storm Idalia made landfall in the western tip of Cuba on Monday night shortly before it was expected to intensify into a hurricane, the Caribbean country’s Institute of Meteorology (Insmet) reported.
A man drives his rickshaw in the rain, near the Capitol in Havana, Cuba, 28 August 2023. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa
Insmet experts said on Cuban state television that the cyclone crossed Cape San Antonio, a narrow strip of land at the westernmost point of the island of Cuba, in a few minutes, around 9 pm.
People drive vehicles in the rain, at the Malecon in Havana, Cuba, 28 August 2023. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa
Expert José Rubiera said that Idalia was expected to become a hurricane in a few hours on Monday night as the drop in atmospheric pressure was raising the wind speed and consequently, intensifying the tropical cyclone.
A person drives a vehicle in the rain, in front of the Capitol in Havana, Cuba, 28 August 2023. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa
Rubiera predicted “very strong storms” in Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba, and a considerable increase in wind force.
A hurricane warning has been issued in this region and the neighboring Isla de la Juventud and Artemisa.
Strong storm surges have also been recorded in the west and southwest of Cuba that have caused the sea to enter some low-lying areas.
Several thousand people have been evacuated preventively.
Idalia, which is advancing north towards Florida, in the United States, has gained strength and speed in the last few hours.
The Insmet has recorded gusts of up to 118 kilometers per hour (73 miles per hour) where it anticipates that the eye of the hurricane will soon take shape.
The storm brings back bitter memories, striking the island a little less than a year after Category 3 Hurricane Ian crossed the Pinar del Río province from south to north at the end of September 2022.
Ian claimed at least five lives and caused considerable damage to more than 100,000 houses, many of which have still not been repaired, according to official figures.
It also affected the supply of drinking water as well as agriculture, especially the cultivation of tobacco – Pinar del Río is a major tobacco-growing area – and led to the total collapse of the National Electric System, causing a days-long blackout on the island. EFE