Hurricane season is in full swing, and a major hurricane and a tropical storm are spinning in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Earl, a category four storm, with sustained winds of 135 mph, according to The Weather Channel, was 230 miles northeast of Santo Domingo this afternoon, its outer bands reaching the north and east of the Dominican Republic.
"Today in Santiago it's been raining, but it's not a threat for anything," said Jose Blanco, sales director of La Aurora S.A., the maker of Aurora, León Jimenes and Guillermo León cigars. "It's just heavy rain. It stopped right now."
Tropical Storm Fiona, 420 miles east of Guadalupe, had winds of 40 mph. It was expected to stay away from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and neither storm should have a significant effect on the cigar-producing countries of the Caribbean or Central America. Earl could impact the eastern United States later this week, and perhaps bring heavy rains or even tropical storm force winds to the Connecticut River Valley, where cigar tobacco is grown.
Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on cigar countries throughout history, and tobacco growers typically avoid planting during hurricane season to avoid catastrophe. Hurricane Mitch killed some 11,000 people in Central America—primarily in Honduras and Nicaragua—and swept away roads, bridges, tobacco barns and even entire fields in October 1998. Hurricane Gilbert destroyed the Royal Jamaica cigar factory in Jamaica in September 1988. In August 2008, Hurricane Gustav, the most powerful storm to strike Cuba in five decades, swept across Cuba's famed Pinar del Río tobacco growing region in, collapsing thousands of tobacco curing barns with wind gusts as strong as 200 mph.
The Atlantic hurricane season ends November 30.
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