Paula Weakens To Tropical Depression Over Cuba

(Reuters)

Tropical Storm Paula weakened to a tropical depression over Cuba on Friday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Paula, which earlier had been the ninth hurricane of the busy 2010 Atlantic season and had reached Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity, was now carrying top sustained winds of 35 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

"Additional weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Paula is expected to degenerate to a remnant low pressure area by Saturday," it said in its latest advisory on the storm.

While at tropical storm intensity, Paula blasted through Havana on Thursday with driving rains and high winds that toppled trees, flooded streets and left large swaths of the Cuban capital without power.

There were no immediate reports of building collapses that usually plague the crumbling capital in stormy weather, nor of any injuries or deaths.

The worst of its weather stayed offshore in the Straits of Florida and a small portion dipped down into Havana to whip the city with wind and drenching rains as the storm's eye passed just to the south.

The stormy weather, which lasted about two hours, caused minor flooding around the city and sent waves crashing over the Malecon, the city's famous seaside boulevard. Toppled trees and power lines blocked many streets.

When night fell, much of Havana, a city of 2.2 million people, was in the dark due to widespread power outages.