CUBA: In Pinar del Rio, the island’s westernmost region, where Hurricane Ian is forecast to make landfall late Monday night or early Tuesday, Cuban officials have ordered the evacuation of 50,000 people.
The National Hurricane Center said that Ian, which is still strengthening, may hit the island as a Category 3 hurricane and produce “severe wind and storm surge impacts.”
There would be “damaging winds” along Ian’s primary course across western Cuba, according to the Center advisory. The location of Ian’s centre at 11:00 p.m. was 105 miles southeast of Cuba’s westernmost point.
In Pinar del Ro province, around 5 a.m. Tuesday, Ian was expected to make landfall somewhere between La Colina and San Juan Martnez, according to the Cuban Meteorological Institute.
Forecasters in Cuba cautioned that because the hurricane has a wide path covering more than 310 kilometres, its effects might be seen in neighbouring provinces.
The main international airport on the island, José Martin Havana, shut down on Monday from 10 p.m. until 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. Before the storm, several flights, including those operated by American Airlines and Southwest, were cancelled. Affected passengers were instructed to get in touch with the airlines directly by the airport operator, state corporation ECASA.
Cubans hurriedly made plans on Monday to secure their homes and possessions in Pinar del Rio, the Isle of Youth, and Havana, which were all under a hurricane alert.
The majority of Cubans lack access to the resources that Floridians typically receive to prepare for a disaster. Shutters, water bottles, sandbags, rechargeable lighting, batteries, and even candles are on that lengthy list. Lack of food complicates storm preparation preparations on the island further.
Ian could have a devastating impact on Cuba’s battered economy if it intensifies into a major hurricane. Cuba is currently experiencing prolonged and ongoing blackouts due to an energy crisis.
The municipal civil defence committee in Pinar del Ro issued an order for the evacuation of 50,000 persons, of whom 6,000 will be sheltered in schools and other government buildings, although most are expected to stay with friends and family. Public transportation was suspended at noon and all transit was prohibited after 7:00 p.m.
In Havana, which could also be hit by torrential rains and hurricane-force winds, authorities focused on collecting debris, the local defense council said. Residents of the poor neighborhood of El Fanguito near the Almendares River have been ordered to evacuate because of the risk of flooding.
A number of state institutions allowed employees to leave as early as 2 p.m. to give them time to get home and get ready. Train services were suspended.
The last major hurricane to hit Cuba was Irma, which hit the island in 2017 as a Category 5 and left 10 dead.