Cuba took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma — and may have spared Florida from worse damage

Cubans recover belongings in Havana after the passage of Hurricane Irma. (Yamil Lage / AFP/Getty Images)

Hurricane Irma killed at least 10 people during the 72 hours that it battered Cuba, damaging nearly every region of the island nation and leaving parts of Havana’s picturesque historic district still underwater Monday, authorities said.

Its collision with Cuba and other Caribbean islands sapped some of its energy, possibly saving Florida from worse damage. By the time Irma made landfall on Marco Island, on the Florida peninsula, its winds had dropped from 185 mph to 130 mph. While still a massive storm — it was about 400 miles wide — Irma ended up causing less than the catastrophic damage that many had feared.

Cuba, however, was not so lucky.

The storm first hit there at 9 p.m. Friday, slamming the island’s northern coast and becoming the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba in more than 80 years. Irma did not leave the country until Sunday afternoon.

Given the storm’s immense girth, few parts of the island were spared. Even Havana, hundreds of miles from where the hurricane first struck, suffered severe flooding and wind damage, with waves up to 30 feet lashing the seaside boardwalk known as the Malecon.

Read Kate Linthicum’s entire Los Angeles Times piece HERE.

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