11 million without electricity in Cuba as Hurricane Ian knocks out power grid

The entire island of Cuba was without electricity early Wednesday after Hurricane Ian collapsed the country’s power grid and left behind significant damage as it barreled toward the coast of Florida, strengthening into an even more destructive Category 4 storm.

Around a million people lost power Tuesday as Hurricane Ian lashed the island with heavy rain and wind, tearing off people’s roofs, devastating farms, and reportedly killing at least two people. By late Tuesday, Cuba’s entire power grid had collapsed, leaving roughly 11 million without electricity.

One major Cuban farm owner said the storm “was apocalyptic, a real disaster.”

The Cuban Electrical Union said it is working to restore services throughout the island but warned the process is “going to take a while.”

With maximum winds of 140 miles per hour, Ian was formally classified as a Category 4 storm Wednesday ahead of its expected landfall in Florida, forcing millions to evacuate amid warnings of life-threatening flooding.

Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, told the Associated Press that much of Ian’s swift intensification can be attributed to its path over water made warmer by the climate crisis.

Warmer water, said Klotzbach, provides “a lot more rocket fuel for the storm.”

University of Albany hurricane scientist Kristen Corbosiero added that “in terms of impacts and climate change, yes, this season could be a harbinger of sort of what is to come,” alluding to Hurricane Fiona and other damaging storms thus far in 2022.

“But it’s really hard to say that climate change has an impact on any one storm in terms of its formation or its individual intensity,” said Corbosiero.