Tropical storm Laura entered Cuba on Sunday with heavy rains, after causing at least 12 deaths in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, while it is expected to arrive as a hurricane in the United States, like Marco.
Laura moves at 33 km per hour along the southern coast of the island, with winds of up to 100 km per hour and electrical storms, according to the official Cuban report.
“It is a tropical storm that does not yet have the organization that could have a hurricane,” meteorologist José Rubiera explained on state TV.
The storm has been gaining strength, “now it is now at 100 km per hour and a category 1 hurricane would be 119 km per hour,” added Rubiera, for whom “it cannot be ruled out” that it becomes a hurricane.
“Due to the high speed of translation that it carries, it will cost a little more work,” said the meteorologist.
Laura entered the east of the island and caused gusts of up to 146 km per hour and waves of more than 3 meters in the town of Maisí, at the eastern end of Cuba, in the province of Guantánamo, where the electricity was cut off as a precaution.
The winds caused damage to some zinc roofs, damage to some homes and the fall of some trees in that province, without reports of personal damage, according to information from state media.
Cuban radars detected two centers in the storm, and they hope to see which one will predominate, although that will not change the expected trajectory, Rubiera said.
The center of the storm is located on land. After passing Santiago de Cuba, it must cross Granma to go to the Gulf of Guacanayabo, heading south of Camagüey, with rains, storm surges and coastal flooding, according to the forecast.
In several coastal cities in the east of the country, people were evacuated in recreational areas and neighborhoods at risk of penetration from the sea or flooding.
In Santiago de Cuba 106,000 people were evacuated in a preventive manner to the homes of family and friends, according to the head of Civil Defense of that province, Gustavo Álvarez. Another 12,000 people were evacuated from Guantánamo.
The storm must pass near the capital, Havana on Monday afternoon, and then leave towards the sea at dawn on Tuesday, possibly through Pinar del Rio (extreme west), heading northwest.
Cuba escaped Storm Marco, which passed near its western end but moved away, only to become a hurricane on Sunday while en route to the United States.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Marco “has developed into a hurricane with maximum winds of 75 mph (120 km / h), with higher gusts.”
The agency added that it will weaken “quickly” once it makes landfall. Marco, he strengthens as he moves towards the state of Louisiana that is scheduled to arrive on Monday.
– Laura whips and leaves victims –
The NHC expects Storm Laura to become a hurricane between Tuesday and Wednesday, and will also reach the US coastal zone.
Due to Laura and Marco’s trajectories, 114 oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated.
In Haiti, Laura left nine dead and two missing on Sunday, according to official reports.
Among the victims is a 10-year-old girl who died after a tree fell on her home, according to an official report released to AFP.
A woman was swept away in the southeast while trying to cross a river, while another woman and two men were killed in Port-au-Prince in the storm.
Many Haitian residents with knee-deep water on Sunday tried to salvage what was left of their flooded homes. Vendors watched the waters from the streets wash away their merchandise.
In the Dominican Republic, with which Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola, Laura left three dead in Santo Domingo.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, could be especially severe this year. The US National Hurricane Center expects 25 depressions and Laura is the twelfth so far.