As of 7 AM CDT, the center of Hurricane Paula was near latitude 22.7 north, longitude 84.5 west, and moving towards the northeast at 5 MPH. A turn towards the east-northeast and east is expected later on in the day today, and while on this track, Paula will continue it’s movement along the north coast or western Cuba throughout the day today. Paula still remains a small hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 MPH or 120 KPH with higher gusts. The hurricane is expected to weaken into a tropical storm later on in the day today. The hurricane force winds extend outward up to 10 miles from the center of the storm. The higher sustained winds are confined to a small area near the eye wall, and Paula remains a category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Tropical force winds extend out from the center for up to 50 miles, as the weather station located on the western tip of Cuba recently reported a 60 MPH wind gust. The minimum central pressure estimated from Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter Aircraft is 999 MB, or 29.50 inches.
Land dwellers should expect tropical storm force winds across extreme western Cuba today, and winds may increase later in the day today over the lower and middle Florida Keys. Rainfall from Paula is expected to produce 3 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches in isolated regions over portions of western and central Cuba, and in mountainous regions, the rainfall may trigger life threatening flash floods and mudslides. The storm surge is expected to be 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast in areas of of onshore flow over extreme western Cuba, and the surge from Hurricane Paula will also be accompanied by large, destructive waves.