By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 13 — Cuba’s westernmost province of Pinar del Rio is preparing to receive hurricane Paula some time Wednesday or early Thursday. Heavy rains and sea surges are expected.
The Category 2 hurricane packs winds of 160 kph (100 mph) reported the Cuban Meteorological Institute (INSMET) at 12:00 noon EST.
At the time of the report the outer bands of rain were near Cape San Antonio and should increase as the afternoon progresses. Hurricane force winds and a sea surge are possible on the north coast of Pinar del Rio by late tonight.
Coastal flooding is also possible starting Wednesday afternoon on the southern coast of Pinar del Rio, says INSMET. Paula is currently 100 kilometers (60 miles) west-southwest of Cape San Antonio and moving towards Cuba at 13 kph (8 mph).
Cuba’s Civil Defense authorities have sprung into action in Pinar del Rio, making preparations in low lying areas. They have also told Havana City and Havana Provinces to keep a close watch on the progress of the storm.
Paula is expected to weaken as it moves across western Cuba. CNN predicts that tropical storm strength winds (75 kph) will be present in the Cuban capital Havana by early Friday morning. The storm could bring needed rainfall to different parts of western and central Cuba.
The NHC reports a tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida Keys.