An unusually strong cold front has wreaked havoc on Cuba’s north coast this week, with massive waves and powerful winds causing widespread power outages and flooding in Havana. The impact was immediate and severe, with streets in coastal areas including Havana becoming submerged under seawater, leaving the capital city scattered with debris and fallen branches.
📸 An old American car passes along the flooded Malecon, during stormy weather in Havana, Cuba. pic.twitter.com/fdYpjPKF03
— ABC News (@ABC) February 6, 2024
The severe weather, with wind gusts reaching up to 62 mph (100 km/h), started in southern Florida. This region had faced similar tumultuous conditions just days before. As the storm progressed, it brought about heavy rain showers and strong winds all over Cuba, leading to flooding in Havana, the city’s capital.
Residents of Havana experienced a restless night with intermittent electricity. However, by Tuesday morning, they braved the outdoors, wearing jackets and hats to combat the cold temperatures that plunged as low as 55 F (12 Celsius), unusual for the warm country.
The city witnessed an unusual sight at dawn: seawater, along with jellyfish, seaweed, and debris, flowed through the streets, extending several blocks inland.
The United Nations Development Programme has identified that over a third of Havana’s 2.2 million people reside in areas vulnerable to sea-level rise. The situation in Havana reflects a global concern, where rising sea levels present a looming threat to coastal cities worldwide and could lead to the disappearance of low-lying island nations in the South Pacific Ocean.
“This really is something new … we’re not used to this kind of cold,” shared Jaqueline Dalardes, a resident of Havana, during her morning walk along the Malecon esplanade.
This severe wave of bad weather sweeping across the northern part of Cuba is not an isolated incident. It is part of a growing trend of extreme weather events that have been battering the Caribbean island nation, attributed to the evolving climate crisis.
Last year, Hurricane Idalia caused similar devastation, flooding streets and cutting off power supply. More recently, Hurricane Ian swept through the island, leaving all of Cuba without power and severely flooding regions. These climatic events are becoming more frequent and intense, disrupting lives and posing significant challenges to the country’s infrastructure and economy.
The increasing severity of these weather events is linked to the warming ocean waters caused by climate change, experts say. Warmer waters fuel stronger storms, which result in larger waves, higher wind speeds, and more rainfall. This leads to more flooding and other related disasters, such as landslides and power outages.
The Cuban government has been proactive in implementing measures to mitigate the impacts of these extreme weather events. However, the magnitude and frequency of these incidents pose a daunting task. The country needs to strengthen its resilience and adaptability to these changing weather patterns.
In addition to national efforts, international cooperation is crucial in addressing the impacts of climate change. Global initiatives that focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development can play a significant role in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
Image Source: Twitter (@Strange_Sounds)