Cuba Dealt a Glancing Blow from Wilma

As Hurricane Wilma raced through the Gulf of Mexico toward Florida yesterday, it dealt a glancing blow to western Cuba. Parts of the island were hit with up to 15 inches of rain, winds of more than 50 miles per hour and tornadoes spawned by the whirling arms of the storm.

Various news reports claimed one to several small tornadoes touched down in Pinar del Río, taking down homes and tobacco curing barns, where the tobacco crop hangs to dry after the harvest. (The barns are empty this time of year, and will be needed for the upcoming harvest this winter.)

The storm helped this become the wettest October in four decades in Cuba.

CNN reported six injured in Cuba, but no deaths. Cuba has a stellar history of protecting its citizens during storms due to mandatory evacuations. More than 600,000 people were evacuated in the days leading up to the storm, according to CNN.

The damaged barns would have to be rebuilt, and wet fields could delay the planting of tobacco seedlings. So long as the damage to tobacco barns is not widespread, as it was in 2002 after Hurricane Isidore made a direct hit on Pinar del Río, the setback to the crop should be relatively minor.

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