Island pounded by fierce freak storm

blacking out more than 100 homes.

Several people reported seeing water spouts associated with tornadoes.

Trees were toppled onto cars, boats flipped over, and ferry and bus services suspended.


blacking out more than 100 homes.

Several people reported seeing water spouts associated with tornadoes.

Trees were toppled onto cars, boats flipped over, and ferry and bus services suspended.

One bus was even sent careering into a wall at the Maritime Museum, although no one was injured.

And a bus window was shattered as the vehicle passed over Watford Bridge.

In addition, the roof of a garage at the Public Transportation Board was ripped off.

In one of the most dramatic incidents, winds wrecked part of the boat Corona , which is laying pipes for the Tynes Bay Incinerator (see story below).

Amazingly, emergency services reported just one tornado casualty.

A man was taken to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital with back injuries after a tree crashed on him.

He had been trying to tie the tree to prevent it from falling at Coral Beach Club.

Yesterday's freak gusts, lasting more than an hour, took weather experts by surprise.

Stunned residents woke up to find the winds slamming into the Island at just after 8.30 a.m. Some claimed to have seen tornadoes.

North Shore Road was made particularly hazardous by fierce gusts, and crashing waves.

One Southampton resident exclaimed: "It was just incredible. A sudden gust swept away all my garden furniture off my top porch, sending it hurtling into the garden below.'' Another Somerset woman told how storm-whipped waves crashed across the main road in Boaz Island.

Police were inundated with calls, many of which they channelled to Government departments.

Said Police spokeswoman Sgt. Andrea Browne: "The only incident we went to was that involving the injured man.'' Engineers from Bermuda Electric Light Company worked flat out in the morning repairing power lines.

There were 40 scattered outages throughout the Island, said Belco spokeswoman Ms Linda Smith.

Scores of properties were blacked out for more than an hour in Somerset, particularly those in Mangrove Bay, Scotts Hill Road, and Beacon Hill Road.

Also hit were Store Hill and Hermitage Road, Devonshire, and Black Bay, Southampton.

More than 100 homes are believed to have been affected in all. Engineers had repaired the last by 12.29 p.m.

Ms Smith said the damage was caused by wires coming together, flying debris, and falling trees.

"We had many calls, but they stopped coming in at around 2 p.m.,'' she added.

Mr. Ron Ross, director of Marine and Ports, said morning ferry services were suspended.

The Somerset-Hamilton service was halted at 9.30 a.m., affecting about three trips.

The Paget-Warwick route was also severely disrupted, although a ferry was able to go to Belmont.

Mr. Larry Jacobs, assistant PTB director, said the Dockyard-Somerset bus service was also suspended from 9.30 a.m. until noon.

The decision was made after a bus at the Maritime Museum was tossed across the street and into a building.

There were no passengers, and the driver escaped injury. The vehicle was towed away.

At about the same time, another windscreen of a bus on Watford Bridge was blown out.

The passengers were taken to their destination by a hastily-arranged shuttle service organised by bus officials.

"One of the supervisor's cars was used to lay on the service, which lasted while buses were off the road,'' said Mr. Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs added the roof of a garage at PTB's headquarters in Palmetto Road was torn out.

Mr. Ernest Pacheco, general manager of the Bermuda Telephone Company reported no incidents.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Terminal said the winds caused no disruption.

"There were no flight cancellations, or even delays,'' she said.

A Harbour Radio spokesman said the worst of the weather lasted between 8.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m.

"There were genuine reports of water spouts associated with tornadoes,'' he said.

"We aren't aware of any reports of major incidents, although plenty of boats were torn from their moorings.'' Lt. Chris Kent, from the US Naval Oceanographic Command Facility, said he had also heard reports of tornadoes, although they could not be confirmed.

He said the winds had come from the east coast of the US, behind a cold front.

"They were completely unexpected,'' he said.

Lt. Kent said the weather station had recorded winds of up to 30 knots, gusting to 40 knots. But he accepted they could have reached higher.

Smallcraft and thunderstorm warnings were sounded at 4 p.m. yesterday, lasting until 10 p.m.

Gusts up to 45 knots were predicted, as well as occasional lightning.

SHATTERED -- Mr. Jerome Grant, a Public Transportation Board employee, helps repair the tornado-damaged garage roof at the Palmetto Road bus depot.

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