Hurricane Paula 5-day forecast track. NHC/NOAA graphic
By Caribbean News Now Staff
MIAMI, USA -- At 8:00 pm EDT Wednesday, the centre of Hurricane Paula was located near latitude 21.8 north, longitude 85.6 west. Paula was moving toward the north-northeast near 3 mph. A turn toward the northeast and east is expected on Thursday.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, on this track Paula will be passing very near or over western Cuba on Wednesday night or early Thursday. Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph, with higher gusts.
Paula is a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale but gradual weakening is expected during the next day or two.
Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 10 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 60 miles. Tropical-storm-force winds were expected to reach extreme western Cuba later Wednesday night, with hurricane conditions forecast by early Thursday. Winds could begin to increase over the lower and middle Florida Keys late Thursday.
Paula is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches possible over portions of western and central Cuba. In areas of mountainous terrain, these rainfall amounts could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
A storm surge is expected to raise water levels by as much as 4 to 6 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast in areas of onshore flow over extreme western Cuba. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban province of Pinar del Rio and a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of La Habana and Cuidad de la Habana. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward, including the Dry Tortugas.