Idalia Causes Storms in Cuba and Becomes a Hurricane As It Approaches Florida

La Coloma, at the western end of Pinar del Río, this Monday. (Telepinar)
    • The United States foresees that, when Idalia hits land in Florida, it will be a “dangerously large hurricane.”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 August 2023 — Around 3 am this Tuesday, tropical storm Idalia was now far from Cabo de San Antonio, at the westernmost end of the Island, where it made landfall at 9 pm on Monday, shortly before becoming a hurricane on its path to Florida.

The meteorologist of the Institute of Meteorology (INSMET) José Rubiera explained that the drop in atmospheric pressure was increasing the wind speed and, consequently, intensifying the storm. The agency has recorded gusts of up to 73 miles per hour, where they predict that the eye of the hurricane will soon be formed.

In Pinar del Río, Idalia has caused very strong storms, with wind gusts of more than 56-59 mph per hour, although they have now dropped to 34-47 mph. Winds of between 31-40 mph have also been recorded in the coastal areas of Artemisa and Isla de la Juventud.

Although large accumulations of water have not been reported at the moment, the showers and thunderstorms are continuing and are not expected to stop in the next few hours.

Although large accumulations of water have not been reported at the moment, the showers and thunderstorms are continuing and are not expected to stop in the coming hours — even as Idalia moves away from Cuba — mainly in some towns in Pinar del Río and Artemisa provinces, although the storms could reach the central area of the Island.

In the low-lying areas of the west and southwest coast, tidal waves have been recorded that caused coastal flooding in Isla de la Juventud, La Bajada (Pinar del Río) and the Surgidero de Batabanó (Mayabeque).

More than 8,000 people have been relocated, particularly in the areas of Bailén and Boca de Galafre (Pinar del Río).

In addition, about 537 tons of tobacco have been protected and another 45 tons collected in warehouses in the pinareño municipality of Minas de Matahambre, according to the Municipal Assembly.

In Havana, gusts of wind and heavy rain keep the municipalities of Guanabacoa and Cojimar without power at the moment.

Idalia, now moving over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, is arriving when it has not even been a year since Ian crossed Pinar del Río in September 2022 as a category 3 hurricane.

Ian caused the death of five people and left considerable material damage to more than 100,000 homes, many of which have not yet been repaired, according to official figures.

It also damaged the supply of drinking water, severely affected agriculture, especially in tobacco cultivation, and led to the total collapse of an already extremely fragile National Electricity System, causing a general blackout on the Island that took days to repair.

Forecast of Idalia’s trajectory in the coming hours. (INSMET)

The arrival of Idalia, now strengthened, is expected in Florida, which has been preparing for the event. Meteorologists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) predict that in the early hours of Wednesday, Idalia will land as “a dangerously large hurricane,” somewhere on the west coast between Tampa Bay and Indian Pass.

Public schools in more than twenty counties will not open on Tuesday and Wednesday as a preventive measure, and the international airports of Tampa and St. Pete-Clearwater will shut down operations.

In the counties of Pasco, Hernando, Duval, Pinellas, Manatee, Taylor, Sarasota, Citrus and Levy, evacuation orders have been issued, and sandbags are being distributed to prevent water from entering homes and commercial premises.

In Tampa, in one of the sandbag distribution centers, an automatic machine was installed for residents to fill their own sacks, a novelty that is the result of the lessons left by Hurricane Ian last year. Authorities expect Idalia to be as strong as Ian, which left 156 dead in the United States.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.