- Title: CUBA: Residents try to stay warm as cold snap grips island
- Date: 4th January 2011
- Summary: MAN AND CHILD WALKING
- Embargoed: 19th January 2011 12:00
- Location: Cuba, Cuba
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Weather
- Reuters ID: LVAET5WXWAV3UK4H2Q84B8TCY4J2
- Story Text: Cuba is experiencing its coldest temperatures in over fifty years, according to meteorologists.
Temperatures on the Caribbean island have fallen to a minimum of 1.9 Celsius (35 Fahrenheit) in some areas, with December thought to have been the coldest month on record since 1951.
Dasiel Cuesta Macedo, a resident in Yumuri Valley in the north-west of the island, was among those trying to deal with unusual drop in temperature.
"Since I was born and until today, I have never felt so much cold," said Macedo.
Islanders have been seen wrapping up in hats, scarves and gloves to try and combat the cold.
Resident Pedro Vera said Cubans are not accustomed to such weather.
"It surprises us because we are not used to this. For example, a cold temperature for us would be 14 to 16 centigrade but it has gone as low as two, four degrees centigrade," said Vera.
Working life has gone on as much as possible in the open air, but residents, and their animals, have certainly noticed the difference.
Jorge Hernandez Benitez, also based in Yumuri Valley, said he had never felt colder.
"It has been the coldest since I have had the use of reason and logic. It could have been colder in other times but since I have been alive, these have been the coldest days I have ever felt," said Benitez.
The problem is confounded by lots of houses being ill-prepared without proper heating.
The capital, Havana, was also affected by the cold snap.
Experts say the lows have come as a result of a continental cold air mass pushing down from the north, where the U.S. has been experiencing extreme snow storms. In the U.S., ice alerts have been issued as far south as southern Florida, where many schools were closed or had late starts due to the exceptional weather.
Jose Rubiera, Director of the Meteorological Institute, has been analysing the local statistics in Cuba.
"We have quite possibly the coldest December we have had since 1951," said Rubiera.
The current temperatures are in huge contrast with the past summer, which was one of the hottest seasons since records on the island began.
"Weather is becoming more extreme, that is certain. But it is becoming more extreme but above all else during severe conditions, like during hurricanes, storms, things on a bigger scale," said Rubiera.
The record low temperature in Cuba is 0.6 degrees, which occurred on February 18, 1996.
Islander Ana Victoria Sanchez spoke on how this year's drop had felt.
"The month of December has been a record. It was horribly, horribly cold," said Sanchez.
January is typically the coldest month of the year, but residents are hoping the extremes have now passed.
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