The Government of Cuba today declared the alert in the province of Pinar del Río, the westernmost, and on the Isle of Youth before the dangerous approach of Hurricane Michael, which is heading towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Michael, already a Category 1 hurricane of 5 on the Saffir Simpson scale by the force of its maximum sustained winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour, is currently moving about 55 kilometers south of Cape San Antonio, the westernmost point of Cuba, located in the province of Pinar del Río.
Among the first reported effects are heavy rains in Cabo de San Antonio, where almost 60 millimeters of rainfall accumulated in two hours, as well as winds of up to 97 kilometers per hour, according to meteorological reports released by official media.
In the municipality of Sandino, in Pinar del Rio, evacuations of people living in areas prone to flooding or in poor housing have begun, while in Isla de la Juventud, the authorities are awaiting about 400 families to move them if necessary.
In that special municipality located a hundred kilometers south of Havana, the evacuation of the residents of the Ciénaga de Lanier and the community of Cocodrilo is also evaluated in the face of the risk of waterlogging.
The electric service also begins to suffer the ravages of the hurricane on both Isla de la Juventud and Pinar del Río, where more than 80 percent of Sandino's supply is affected due to the demolition of poles.
The Pinar del Rio authorities suspended classes and agricultural activities and also adopted measures to protect the population and material goods.
The tobacco plantations in that province have been protected, where the planting of the new campaign with some 20,000 hectares, the largest area dedicated to this crop on which one of the main exports of the country is based, has just started.
The second note issued by the Civil Defense because of this natural phenomenon specified that the provinces of Artemisa, Havana, Mayabeque and Matanzas remain in "informative phase", due to the "threat" that the associated rains represent for western Cuba to the hurricane, which continues to gain in intensity.
He also asked the population to be "attentive" to the information from the Forecast Center of the Institute of Meteorology (Insmet), to the instructions of the Civil Defense and to comply "disciplinedly" with the protection measures indicated by the local authorities.
The Institute of Meteorology has predicted that there will be swells with danger for navigation on the south coast of the west and center of the country, which will be strong on the south coast of Pinar del Río and Isla de la Juventud.
Hurricane Michael, the first of the current Atlantic cyclone season that affects Cuba, will cross this afternoon through the Yucatan Channel, very close to Cabo de San Antonio, then entering the southeast waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the night.
Last year Cuba suffered the scourge of powerful Hurricane Irma, which left ten dead and losses quantified at 13,185 million dollars, according to official data.