Increasingly dangerous Hurricane Michelle picked up speed overnight and was
lashing Cuba’s small Isle of Youth with its winds early yesterday before taking aim at
the main island, and possibly Florida and the Bahamas later.
After entering Cuba on its south – western coast, the storm late November 4, 2001
was projected to move north across the island, passing to the east of Havana on the
northern coast, home to two million of the island’s 11 million citizens.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from low – lying areas across Cuba
over the past several days. Civil defence authorities on Saturday ordered 150000 people
evacuated in flood – prone areas of Havana alone.
Describing Michelle as “an extremely dangerous hurricane,” the U.S National
Hurricane Service in Miami said the storm was about 230 kms south – southwest of
Havana at 7 p.m. yesterday Thai time.
Michelle was moving northward at 19 kphs. The storm had sustained winds near
215 kphs, with hurricane force winds extending out 75 km.
Forecasters said a storm surge of nearly six metres, in which a huge, fast – moving
wall of ocean water could flood a large area, was possible near and to the east of where
Michelle makes landfall on Cuba’s southern coast.
Michelle, which has killed 12 prople in Central America and Jamaica, picked up
much of its strength afterward but now was not expected to strengthen more, the
centre said. Its winds were stronger than Hurricane Lili, Which wiped out crops and left
thousands homeless in Cuba in 1996
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