Western Cuba was placed on hurricane alert this week as Hurricane Wilma moved slowly toward the Yucatán Peninsula, packing winds of 145 miles per hour. The category-four storm, which once had the lowest pressure ever recorded in the Atlantic, is expected to take a sharp turn east by Saturday and could potentially move directly across Pinar del Río, where Cuba's greatest tobacco leaves are grown.
School in Pinar del Río was suspended yesterday and residents were being evacuated from the coast. Cuba was preparing to move tobacco seedlings out of greenhouses if threatened by the storm, according to Granma Daily, and was paying "special attention" to the 52.7 million pounds of tobacco being stored across the island. At this time of year, it was likely that some seedlings had been planted in certain fields.
Hurricanes are no stranger to Cuba. In 2002, Hurricane Isidore roared through Pinar del Río, taking down scores of tobacco curing barns. Last year, Hurricane Ivan made landfall in the same region, which has only recently recovered from the damage.
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Photo Courtesy AP Wideworld