OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
The National Civil Defense Chief of Staff (EMNDC) met on September 6 to established measures to minimize the impact of Hurricane Irma. Photo: Jose M. Correa

Yesterday September 5, during the first meeting of the National Defense Council for the Disaster Reduction’s Civil Defense Work Bureau, which served to provide an update on Hurricane Irma’s current status and forecasts for the “dangerous phenomenon,” officials from the organization noted that although the trajectory of Irma must continue to be monitored, it is expected to hit the island in coming days.

Armando Caimares Ortiz, specialist at the Meteorological Institute’s Weather Forecast Center, explained that the latest reports don’t look promising, as Irma is a large storm with forecasts indicating that it will pass along or very close to Cuba’s northern coast.

He went on to note that although Cuba is not expected to be hit directly, all forecasts indicate that Irma’s winds will affect the island.

If it continues on its current path, Irma should reach Cuba, specifically the north of Ciego de Ávila province, sometime on the evening of Friday, September 8, before turning northwestward toward the Florida Peninsula, affecting areas from Camagüey Province to the west of the country.

According to Division General Ramón Pardo Guerra, head of the National Civil Defense Chief of Staff (EMNDC), Irma is expected to be stronger than Hurricane Ivan which hit the island in 2004, forcing over two million people to be evacuated.

As such, “The population must continue to follow information from the Meteorological Institute and Civil Defense, and comply, in a disciplined manner, with measures as indicated by local authorities,” stated Pardo Guerra.
Efforts are already underway by authorities responsible for protecting the population and country’s economic resources to prevent damage and the loss of human life as Irma approaches the island.

IRMA, THE STRONGEST HURRICANE IN 10 YEARS

On September 5, the extremely dangerous Hurricane became the first to reach a category 5 rating on the Saffir-Simpson Scale in the Tropical-Atlantic region, since the hurricane season of 2007, when Dean and Félix also reached the same level.

According to Dr. Miriam Teresita Llanes, head of the Meteorology Institute’s Weather Forecast Center, as well as intensifying September 5-6, the radius of influence of its winds - (equal to or more than 119 kilometers per hour) - increased, continuing to extend outward by 95 kilometers at 6pm on the 5th, before reaching maximum sustained winds of 280 kilometers.

At the around the same time that day, and with maximum winds of 295 kilometers per hour and a minimum central pressure of 926 hectopascals, Irma continued to move westward before hitting the islands of the Lesser Antilles in the evening.
According to Dr. Miriam Teresita, the presence of a system of strong high pressure system at different levels of the atmosphere to the north of the hurricane has prevented it from expanding further.

Given its position, intensity, area of influence, and possible west-northwest path, Irma represents a potential danger to Cuba, above all beginning Friday, September 8, when its affects will be felt in the far east of the country.