But the storm passed between Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula before making a sharp turn to the east.
Tourists and residents in Cancun were briefly evacuated as a precaution, but the storm brought only scattered rain showers and breezy conditions to the resort.
Paula weakened rapidly as it approached western Cuba’s tobacco-growing region. Officials there had also evacuated a handful of people in low-lying areas that could have received flash flooding.
But the storm continued to weaken as it skirted the island’s northwestern shore on Thursday.
A tropical storm watch was briefly issued for the Florida Keys before Paula eventually lost force.
Tropical Storm Paula Track
Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS