Hurricane Ian leaves western Cuba battered, takes aim for Florida - GulfToday

Hurricane Ian leaves western Cuba battered, takes aim for Florida

A vintage car passes by debris caused by the Hurricane Ian in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Monster hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major storm on Tuesday and left 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters that is expected to strengthen it into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.

Ian landed in the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, where authorities set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took action to protect crops in the country's main tobacco region.

The US National Hurricane Center said Cuba experienced "significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with sustained top winds of 125 mph (205 kmh).

The center considers the hurricane to become "extremely strong", meaning a category 3, 4 and 5 on this scale, when the accompanying wind speed reaches 178 kilometers per hour.

In this case, the hurricane would cause “destructive” damage to homes and buildings, uprooting trees, and negatively affecting the distribution of water and electricity.

Since Monday, the Cuban Civil Defense has declared a state of alert in the six provinces in the west of the country: Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, Havana, Mayapeque, Cienfuegos and the island of Jupentod, located 344 kilometers south of the capital. The height of the waves ranged between five and seven meters. The authorities evacuated about 50,000 people from Pinar del Rio.

In the capital of 2.1 million people, long queues formed to buy some food.

Havana fishermen pulled their boats out of the water and barricaded themselves in their homes, while some residents reinforced the wooden houses.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel wrote, “These remaining hours should be used before the situation gets worse. Protecting the population is essential.”

The island of Grand Cayman of the United Kingdom has also been placed on alert.

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