By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – Cuba’s weather forecasters see Tropical Storm Elsa reaching land in the coming hours, most likely in the province of Matanzas. It will then cross the island, moving northwest before exiting en route to Florida.
It’s not clear at this point what the effects will be in Havana, in part depending whether the storm weakens considerably over land or not. People in the capital have been scrambling to take whatever precautions they can, especially having drinking water and something to eat on hand.
Things as simple as flashlight batteries or candles, in case the electricity is cut, are two more of the many products in severe shortage. Plywood for windows is only available to government hotels, businesses and some offices.
During the early morning hours, the rains of tropical storm Elsa affected the central region of Cuba, strong and intense in some locations, with the highest accumulated rainfall in the province of Sancti Spiritus.
At nine in the morning, the center of tropical storm Elsa was estimated by the Cuban Weather Service (Insmet) at 21.4 degrees North latitude and 80.9 degrees West longitude, about 50 miles south of Playa Giron, Matanzas province. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami also noted its location around 160 miles southeast of Havana.
Elsa maintains a northwest course, at about 14 miles per hour and has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, with stronger gusts. The central pressure has risen slightly to 1006 millibars.
In the next 12 to 24 hours, tropical storm Elsa will continue heading to the northwest, with a similar movement speed, although a slight increase in its intensity is possible before making landfall, after noon today, notes Insmet. The system is expected to weaken some when advancing inland.
Rains will continue to affect the central region of the country, which will continue to be strong and intense in some locations, mainly in mountainous areas, says the Cuban weather experts. These precipitations will extend to the western region of the country with the advance of the system.
Although the rainfall in the eastern region will decrease, rains and electrical storms are still possible, far from the center of Elsa, produced by its outer bands.
Insmet reports that the swells will continue throughout the southern coast of Cuba, with slight coastal flooding from the southern coast of Matanzas to the Gulf of Guacanayabo. On the northwestern coast, which includes Havana, there will be some light coastal flooding starting this evening, mainly in low lying areas of that coast.