Two dead in Cuba due to rain; storm heads for Florida | Latin America and Caribbean

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Heavy downpours linked to a storm system in the Atlantic Ocean left at least two people dead Friday in western Cuba. Meanwhile, meteorologists from the United States issued preventive tropical storm warnings for Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida, where the system is headed.

The Cuban official media detailed that the two deaths occurred in Havana and were the product of a landslide and an accident. There is also a missing person in the province of Pinar del Río. This person is believed to have fallen into a swollen stream.

The United States National Hurricane Center (NHC, for its acronym in English) indicated that the storm that was called Agatha in the Pacific Ocean and that is feeding this system will now be called Alex in the Atlantic.

In an advisory issued Friday night, the center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers per hour), just above the tropical storm threshold, but was still called a Potential Tropical Cyclone One. because it had few of the other characteristics that define a tropical storm.

At 8 p.m., forecasters said the storm was located about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southwest of Fort Myers, Florida, and was moving at about 7 mph (11 km/h).

An NHC advisory said the system is expected to develop “a well-defined center and become a tropical storm” as it approaches Florida on Friday night and into Saturday.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said most government services, such as bus and train runs, are scheduled to run as normal through the weekend. Some events have been canceled, she noted, and while there isn’t widespread concern about the storm, it might be best to plan indoors.

“If you don’t need to go out, it’s probably best to stay home,” Levine Cava said at a news conference on Friday.

The mayor added that the level of the canals in South Florida has been lowered to minimize flooding caused by heavy rains.

The storm warning affects the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic, from just below Tampa Bay and Daytona Beach to the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas. Parts of Cuba are also under warning, including the provinces of Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Havana and Mayabeque, and the northwestern Bahamas, where tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.

From Cuba it was reported in the afternoon that several houses were affected. The state electricity company added that there was damage to the energy system and there were some 50,000 customers without power. The prime minister, Manuel Marrero, indicated that there had been some 40 landslides in Havana.

Cuba’s leading meteorology expert, José Rubiera, warned that the downpours in May had already saturated the soil, so these rains will bring flooding to low-lying areas with poor drainage.


Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. AP journalist in Havana, Andrea Rodríguez, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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