© Reuters. Volcanic ash and mud fill a road after the passage of Hurricane Elsa in an area of the north coast, made impossible by the south due to the fall of ash from successive eruptions of the volcano La Souffriere combined with storms, in Sandy Bay, St.
By Marc Frank and Kate Chappell
HAVANA (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Elsa erupted late Sunday as its center approached central-southern Cuba with the government of the Caribbean island nation issuing hurricane warnings for the provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT5+shtml/041158.shtml Elsa would strengthen a little more before moving over Cuba.
Elsa had arrived earlier in the day in eastern Cuba, sniffing the palms with strong winds and carrying a constant rain down part of the southern coast.
The Miami-based NHC said data from one aircraft indicated that the maximum sustained wind was close to 65 miles per hour (100 km per hour) with higher gusts. Elsa had been hit by a hurricane on Saturday.
A hurricane is defined as having winds of at least 75 mph (121 km / h).
“There’s a lot of wind and waves of a meter or more,” Wilfredo Munoz Lopez, who rents rooms to tourists in Cabo Cruz, said by phone. “There’s no one outside. Everyone is at home or in their shelters, as we expect them to be.”
Local forecasts have warned of heavy rain for days with rain in central and possibly western Cuba.
“There is not a lot of wind but a lot of rain, even for this area,” said housewife Misladi Pulgar on the slopes of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, inland from Cabo Cruz. “They evacuated everyone who lived near the rivers and reservoirs.”
According to provincial reports, more than 100,000 people have been evacuated in the potential course of the storm, mostly in family and friends ’homes, but thousands also in government shelters.
Evacuations were underway as far west as the capital Havana for fear that rains in the coming days could cause the collapse of the ruined buildings.
This has raised concerns that the country is experiencing a growth of the coronavirus with a transmission rate of more than 10% on Saturday, twice what often triggers a blockage.
The center of Elsa was 165 miles (265 km) east-southeast of Cayo Largo and about 270 miles (440 km) southeast of Havana at 11 pm ET (0300 GMT), the NHC said. said, and heads northwest at 15 mph (24 km / h).
The storm will bring 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain in Cuba, with some patches reaching up to 15 inches (38 cm). The NHC said this would result in significant flash flooding and mud slides. The southern coast of Cuba is expected to receive a storm up to 5 feet (1.5 m).
Elsa is scheduled to continue approaching central Cuba late Sunday and early Monday, before heading to the Florida Strait on Monday and passing close to the Florida Keys early Tuesday.
Tornadoes are possible in South Florida Monday afternoon and Tuesday, the NHC in Miami said in an alert.
The approaching storm has forced Florida officials to begin work to demolish the remaining part of a condominium building that collapsed 11 days ago, killing at least 24 with more than 120 people missing.
Others in the region were still struggling with the repercussions Sunday.
Authorities in Haiti, where the storm has severely affected the agricultural sector, according to an initial assessment, have warned of a risk of floods and landslides.
In the Jamaican capital Kingston, some roads were flooded.
“People have been trapped in the vehicles,” said Owen Palmer, an early responder, adding that some residents are scared.
“They didn’t take the storm seriously – as Jamaicans always do – until the rain started to fall.”
Iane Thomas, who runs a small restaurant, said a swollen river flooded nearby homes. “The river ran very fast because a lot of rain fell in the morning. It fell from the mountains,” Thomas said.