Hurricane Irma is gradually moving away from Cuba. Pictured: Its position at 3pm on September 9. Photo: INSMET

The Meteorological Institute’s Forecast Center issued Tropical Storm Advisory no. 35 at 6am on September 10, as Hurricane Irma gradually moves away from Cuba; although its effects will continue to be felt in the western region of the island with tropical storm strength winds. The Casa Blanca Meteorological Station has reported north to northwest gusts of 120 km/h, and severe flooding along the northwest coast including the Havana Malecón.

Irma’s outer bands continue to affect the western and central region of the country with heavy rainfall and intense localized showers.

At 6am on September 10, the eye of the hurricane was estimated at approximately latitude 24.2 North, longitude 81.6 West, placing it about 40 kilometers southeast of Key West, in southern Florida. A reconnaissance aircraft recorded maximum sustained wind speeds of 215 km/h, with stronger gusts and a minimum central pressure of 928 hectopascals. Irma continues as a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale and is currently moving northwest at a speed of 13 km/h.

Severe flooding will continue throughout the day along the island’s northwest coast from Matanzas to Artemisa, with six to nine meter high waves; while the same applies to northern regions of the provinces of Sancti Spíritus and Villa Clara, with reports of five to seven meter high waves.

With strong winds persisting in the south western region, moderate to severe flooding will also continue along the southern coast from Camagüey to Matanzas.

Although Irma is moving away from Cuba, tropical storm strength winds will continue to affect the island from Sancti Spíritus to Artemisa, with gusts of 120-130 km/h affecting the northern region of provinces from Villa Clara to La Habana.

Over the next 12 to 24 hours Irma will pick up speed and could intensify as it continues to move north-northwestwards toward the Florida Keys.

With Irma continuing to affect western and central Cuba, the population is advised to follow reports by the Meteorology Institute’s Weather Forecast Center and instructions from the National Civil Defense.

The next Tropical Storm Advisory for Hurricane Irma will be issued at 9am today.