The Hurricane Ian will touch land in the far west of Cuba at least with category 3 (over 5) on the Saffir-Simpson scale in the early hours of Tuesday, reported in its latest forecast from the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet).
This noon downtown Ian -the fourth hurricane of the season– was still 175 kilometers south of the Isla de la Juventud special municipality (southwest) and about 295 kilometers southeast of Cape San Antonio, the extreme of the Pinar del Río province, in the west of the country.
The Insmet Forecast Center detailed that Ian -now a category 1 hurricane- continues to strengthen and moves over the northwest of the Caribbean Sea, with maximum winds of up to 130 kilometers per hour and gusts of more than 20 kilometers per hour.
For the afternoon-night of this Monday, a gradual and generalized increase in rains is expected, which can become strong in some locations in the west and center of the country.
Strong swells are already occurring in the south of Isla de la Juventud and on the south coast of Pinar del Río, with waves between 5 and 7 meters.
Insmet also warned that Ian could cause heavy rains and hurricane-force winds capable of raising sea levels and causing coastal flooding.
The authorities of the National Civil Defense decreed this Monday the phase of “cyclone alert” for six provinces in the west and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud. This is the second of four stages that the Cuban authorities establish to deal with natural disasters.
They have also directed measures to minimize the effects of the hurricane on homes, workplaces and state facilities, and agriculture, among others.
Land and sea transportation was suspended in some regions and classes were suspended in many educational centers in the western half of the country.
The current Atlantic cyclone season (June 1 to November 30) was rated as “very active” with a forecast of up to 17 cyclones, nine of them with the possibility of reaching the category of hurricane.
At the beginning of last June, a strong rainstorm associated with Cyclone Alex hit the central and western regions of the island with a toll of four deaths, power cuts, damage to 750 homes (21 total landslides) and damage to to 3,200 hectares of cultivation.
The last time a large hurricane affected Cuba was in 2017, when Irma crossed the north coast of the island from east to west, leaving 10 dead and material losses valued at 13,185 million dollars.