Hurricane Paula Report #1 Print

Hola tod@s - 

I was just about to sit down and write a little report on Hurricane Paula, when the following article came in which provides such a good summary, that now I only have to make a few updated comments. 

Hurricane Paula is the 18th Tropical Depression, 15th Tropical Storm and 9th Hurricane - assuming that I have my numbers right - of the present Hurricane Season. It is also going to be the first one to hit Cuba. At the moment, it's hitting the western part of Pinar del Rio as a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 160 kph, a Central Pressure of 984 and moving northeast quite slowly, 15 kph. As of 9am this morning, Pinar del Rio Province and Isla de la Juventud are on "Alarma", meaning the phenomenon is upon them. From Provincia Habana, Ciudad de La Habana and all the west east to Santa Clara, we're in "Fase Informativa", the first of three stages of hurricane preparedness. 

Hurricane Paula has some important features which will greatly influence how it affects Cuba: 

1) It is a very small hurricane, with hurricane-force winds only reaching some 34 km from the eye and tropical storm winds only reaching between 90-100 km from the eye. 

2) In the attached image, produced at 5am this morning, you'll notice that it's curving strongly to the northeast. This is because of the strong winds to the north that are pushing it down. These winds may also weaken it a bit. 

3) Depending on how strong the winds are, it may go a bit more north through Straits of Florida, in which case we'll only get rains - heavy or lighter, depending on its distance from our coast. But if the winds to the north of it remain strong, Paula will curve more towards Cuban land, and then we could get either a hurricane or Tropical Storm going all along the northern coast from Pinar del Rio to Santa Clara. It's still a bit too early to tell, but by the end of the day we should have a better idea. 

4) Cuba needs the rains! And especially Havana which is low on water and having serious drought problems in some parts of the city. As you know, our rivers are in the sky, and without rain, they don't do us any good. 

5) At the moment, here in Havana the sky has been overcast all day, with a feeling of rain but still nothing falling. In the meantime, this morning I cleaned out all the drains on the rooftop as well as all the drains in the entrance to the garage and inside the garage. Others have done the same. 

6) My kitties are good barometers of the weather. Normally the two oldest - Mariposita and Luisito - spend the day sleeping outside. But today, all four are inside the house - possibly because they already sense subtle changes in atmospheric pressure and feel safer inside. When the change is quite dramatic, Mariposita goes outside onto the veranda, sits down, and spends hours - still as a statue - looking up at the sky until it starts raining or the wind gets too strong. 

I'll keep you informed of developments, but in the meantime you may want to keep your eyes on Hurricane Paula as it passes either on Cuban land or in Cuban coastal waters. 

Abrazotes y besotes para tod@s de Susana