Escaping a strange winter

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The beaches of Varadero, Cuba, 15 February 2018 (Dearing)

Let’s face it, winter in Southeast New Brunswick has been a volatile roller coaster ride with wildly fluctuating temperatures and unusual amounts of mixed precipitation.

I wanted an escape, so a two-week vacation getaway to Cuba was in order.

From 06-20 February, the island’s most popular beach destination of Varadero enjoyed daytime highs in the upper 20s C with glorious sunshine and just a few passing clouds.

Winter is the dry season in Cuba and precipitation was light except for a lengthy downpour of rain during just one early morning.

Varadero has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and millions of international visitors – mostly Canadians – flock there every year.

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Irma swamps Florida

The impact of Hurricane Irma in Miami, FL, USA, 10 Sept 2017 (AP)

Irma was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm today after slamming Florida with destructive wind, heavy rain, flash flooding, high storm surges and even tornadoes.

Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, made landfall over the Florida Keys on Sunday before coming ashore near Naples and then heading up the state’s west coast.

Miami was not in the storm’s direct path but was still battered by strong winds which swayed high rise buildings, brought down three construction cranes and downtown streets were swamped.

In northeast Florida, Jacksonville had historic flooding after the swollen St. Johns River spilled its banks and officials said dangerous conditions were expected for several days.

Prior to arriving in the United States, Irma claimed 10 lives in Cuba according to state media after battering Havana and tourist resorts such as Varadero and Cayo Coco where the international airport was destroyed.

Cuba sizzles under strong winter sun

Beach at Club Karey, Varadero, Cuba, 06 Feb 2014 (Dearing)

Beach at Club Karey, Varadero, Cuba, 06 Feb 2014 (Dearing)

To escape a nasty New Brunswick winter, I visited Cuba (Feb 3-10) for some fun in the sun.

Temperatures at the beach resort of Varadero were well above normal during my stay with daytime maximums reaching 30 C or higher on six days and warm overnight lows from 17 C to 22 C.

Normal highs and lows for early February are 26 C and 18 C respectively.

The most comfortable times were early mornings and late afternoons as I sought shade under a palapa with a cold drink during the midday sun.

Winter is traditionally the dry season on the island with only a couple hours of heavy rain recorded late one evening.

Hot in Cuba!

Varadero Beach, Cuba, 23 Feb 2012 (Dearing photo)

My recent fourth visit to Cuba (22-29 February) turned out to be the hottest trip to the Caribbean island yet.

Normal late February temperatures in Varadero range from a high of 26 C to a low of 16 C.

However during the week I visited, daily highs were at least 30 C with an average low of 17 C.

Even the locals were complaining of the heat since an average high of 30 C is more typical of May.

(Stats courtesy wunderground.com)