Hurricane Irma is practically history. Yesterday, it was reduced to a simple tropical storm after having reached a horrendous Category 5 intensity in the past couple of days. At the moment, it has been degraded to a simple tropical depression that is coursing towards the southeastern United States.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Irma recorded winds of 55 kilometers per hour and was located about 10 kilometers south of Columbus, Georgia, and 150 kilometers south-southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. The tropical depression is advancing slowly at about 24 kilometers per hour heading northwest. It is expected to reach Alabama and Tennessee soon after leaving behind a trail of destruction in the Caribbean.
Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, left the Caribbean with around 30 casualties and recorded winds of up to 295 kilometers per hour. In the United States, where it landed on Sunday, it brought heavy flooding, leaving 10 dead and about 6.5 million residents without electricity.
Meanwhile, Cuba tries to recover from the aftermath of Irma. Air operations at Cuba’s main international airports in Havana and Varadero’s tourist resort will restore operations as usual on Tuesday. A statement from the island’s Civil Aviation Corporation reported that flights at Jose Marti airport in the Cuban capital will be resumed starting at 1700 GMT on Tuesday. The Juan Gualberto Gomez airport in Varadero will resume operations from 1300 GMT, as reported by the Cuban civil aeronautics company. The statement said that passengers who could not travel on the scheduled dates due to the weather event should contact the commercial offices of the airlines in which they purchased their tickets to reschedule or cancel their trip. In Varadero, there are at present more than 15,000 foreign tourists, many of them with their flights back to their countries still pending. Of these, about 5,000 tourists were evacuated from the cays on the north coast, in the center of the island, where Irma struck the hardest on Friday night.
In Cuba, there are more than 3,000 Spanish tourists stranded. Before the imminent passage of Hurricane Irma, more than 36,000 visitors were evacuated from these cays (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Guillermo), although many of them, mainly Canadians, returned to their countries of origin before the arrival of the cyclone. The airport closest to the northern cay, Jardines del Rey, has been completely destroyed and authorities still do not know when it will be able to resume flights. Throughout Cuba, there are more than 3,000 stranded Spanish tourists, to whom the Spanish embassy has opened its doors 24 hours a day, ensuring the provision of food, water, telephone and internet communication as well as relocation in hotels.
[Featured Image by Marc Serota/Getty Images]