Cigar Aficionado

Storm Knocks Out Power in Havana

The lights went out in Havana last night as Tropical Storm Paula swept across the island of Cuba, drenching the cigar city with heavy rains and wind gusts approaching 70 miles per hour and blacking out the city.

A source in Cuba said that power had been restored to a majority of the city of Havana by mid-afternoon.

The storm knocked down trees but Cuba was spared major problems. In 2008, back-to-back hurricanes caused some $5 billion in damages to Cuba, rendering 200,000 homeless and damaging thousands of casa del tabacos in the western part of the country, where Cuba's finest tobacco is grown. Cuban tobacco farmers, like farmers throughout the rest of the cigar world, do not plant during hurricane season to minimize the risk to their crops.

Paula, once a category two hurricane with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour as it spun off the coast of Cancún, had weakened to a low-pressure system and was centered off the coast of northern Cuba as this story was published.


"It is strange how God made this to be one of two things: The valley of hurricanes and the heaven of tobacco growing. I think it makes it a perfect romance novel. I was in Cuba several years ago and was sitting in Varadero's Melia Las America. I was in one of the buffets and the day was perfect. Not more than a minute later a huge black cloud took over the top of the sky, right above us. It was biblical how fast and big it was growing. So fast and big it gives you a sensation in your stomach of fear and excitement. Then a few seconds later the storm started blowing rain so hard, it came from the ground. You just saw people running for shelter and the windows had a steady film of water over them. Lightning then started and struck about 6-7 times and then seemed to move on. Then literally 10 minutes later the blue sky pushed through along with the sun, as if almost never happened. Storms like that are common over Cuba but usually last for a short period of time. They are used to the storms like that and manage around them. They will just get some shelter and wait 5-10 minutes until it passes. Although the hurricanes last a lot longer and are very sever of course. We do not hear 1/4 of the problems may occur there from a hurricane. With poor conditions to begin with, it is even more devastating to be homeless in Cuba. Fortunately the Cuban people are more than resilient and strong as we know. But just remember when 200 000 people are homeless, there is a greater stress on the communities there then here." —October 16, 2010 15:17 PM