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Cuba evacuates more than 100,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa skirts southern provinces

Jacqueline Charles, Adriana Brasileiro, and Syra Ortiz-Blanes, The Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

MIAMI — Tropical Storm Elsa was skirting Cuba’s southern provinces on Sunday afternoon and dumping heavy rain after lashing Jamaica and the southern coast of Haiti, where its strong wind gusts crushed crops. Two deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic and one in St. Lucia.

Elsa was moving just southwest of Pilón, in the Cuban province of Granma, and was moving northwest at around 14 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. advisory.

Cuba has ordered the evacuation of more than 100,000 people from low-lying areas and places with high risk of landslides as the storm is expected to cross the island on Monday. Earlier on Sunday, strong winds were registered in southern areas from Guantanamo to Cabo Cruz, on the western extreme of Granma province.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Santiago de Cuba, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, VillaClara, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Mayabeque, and Havana, according to the advisory.

Elsa’s slow speed is expected to continue through Monday followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday. The storm is forecast to continue to move near or over eastern Cuba on Sunday evening, and to approach central Cuba late Sunday or early Monday. Elsa is expected to move across central and western Cuba, and head toward the Florida Straits on Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph with higher gusts, according to the advisory.

More than 5 inches of rain had fallen in at least one location in Jamaica as of late Sunday morning and video images showed heavy flooding in Kingston, according to the Jamaican government’s Meteorological Service Division. The Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect as the risk of flooding and possible landslides were still high, the Division said in a statement on Sunday afternoon.

 

In the neighboring Dominican Republic, the storm was responsible for at least two deaths, the country’s Emergency Operations Center said, after two people were crushed by a collapsed wall in two separate incidents Saturday. Another death was reported in St. Lucia after Elsa battered the eastern Caribbean as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday.

As the center of the storm neared northeastern Jamaica Sunday morning before moving to portions of eastern Cuba, Jamaica’s Meteorological Service warned the population that rainfall, including heavy showers and thunderstorms, will continue to spread across most parishes.

“Flash flooding is likely in low-lying and floor prone areas today with 3 to 6 inches of rainfall in the forecast,” the Meteorological Service said in an advisory. “Strong winds, reaching to near tropical-storm force, are also expected during at least the next 6-12 hours.”

Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and police force said they received reports of flooded, impassable roads in Kingston, Portmore and St. Thomas parish.

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