Miami, United States, Sep 27 (EFE).- Hurricane Ian, which has intensified into a major category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, touched down early on Tuesday in western Cuba with sustained winds of around 185 kilometers per hour (115 mph), with authorities warning of heavy rains and floods.
Cuba’s meteorological institute reported that the hurricane touched down at 3.24 am between the cities of La Coloma and Cabo Frances and was moving at a speed of 20 kph.
Earlier, the United States National Hurricanes Center had announced that the hurricane had strengthened into a major hurricane, while it was around 135 kilometers east of the Cuban coast.
The storm is already causing damage in Cuba’s western parts, with the area reporting power cuts and suspension of land and sea transport due to heavy rains and strong winds. Around 50,000 people have been evacuated.
On the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, storms of category 3 or higher are considered major hurricanes.
A category 3 storm – with sustained winds of 178-208 kph – can cause devastating damage, blowing away roofs, felling trees and blocking roads, along with widespread power cuts.
These hurricanes can also result in storm surges, causing seawater to enter coastal areas, while heavy rains carried by the storms often cause floods.
After passing through western Cuba, the hurricane is expected to head towards the western coast of the Florida peninsula, situated along the Gulf of Mexico, as a major hurricane.
As per the projections, on Thursday Ian could intensify into a category 4 hurricane – with sustained winds of 209-251 kph – over the hot waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
On Thursday, it is expected to weaken into a category 3 storm again as it lashes the Tampa bay, before making landfall in northern Florida on Friday as a category 1 tropical storm.
Ian, the fourth hurricane of the 2022 season, is also expected to affect the Florida Keys in its passage towards the Gulf of Mexico.
The last major hurricane to affect Cuba was the Irma in 2022, which ravaged the northern coast of the island, killing 10 people and causing material damages worth $13 billion. EFE