Island prepares for Hurricane Bill

The Bermuda Regiment is readying itself to deal with Hurricane Bill, which is expected to approach Bermuda early Saturday morning

The hospital and the airport are also buckling down in advance of the storm, with the airport warning the public not to leave their cars in the long-term parking lot during the hurricane. Last night, the Category Four hurricane was around 847 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving west-northwest, with sustained winds of 115 knots and gusts of 140 knots.

According to the Bermuda Weather Service, the storm is expected to pass 180 nautical miles to the west-southwest of the Island around 5 a.m. on Saturday. Seas are expected to reach 15 to 25 feet outside the reef, while winds are expected to peak at 35 to 45 knots. Gusts are expected to reach hurricane strength, around 65 knots.


The Bermuda Regiment is readying itself to deal with Hurricane Bill, which is expected to approach Bermuda early Saturday morning

The hospital and the airport are also buckling down in advance of the storm, with the airport warning the public not to leave their cars in the long-term parking lot during the hurricane. Last night, the Category Four hurricane was around 847 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving west-northwest, with sustained winds of 115 knots and gusts of 140 knots.

According to the Bermuda Weather Service, the storm is expected to pass 180 nautical miles to the west-southwest of the Island around 5 a.m. on Saturday. Seas are expected to reach 15 to 25 feet outside the reef, while winds are expected to peak at 35 to 45 knots. Gusts are expected to reach hurricane strength, around 65 knots.

Meteorologist at Bermuda Weather James Dodgeson said that Bermuda is expected to miss the worst of the storm, but warned the public that the hurricane's path could change over the next few days.

"As it runs by us, we expect it's going to weaken to a Category Three hurricane, so if we get by with 65 knot winds, we're going to be lucky. Near the centre of the storm winds are going to be around 115 knots," Mr. Dodgeson said. "Still, it's a couple of days away, and models are notorious for changing. It could still have a huge impact."

The Bermuda Regiment Public Relations Officer Major George Jones said that the Regiment has started preparing itself in the event of an embodiment, should Governor Sir Richard Gozney call for it.

"As per the Regiment's Standing Orders, we have gone through the process of again rechecking our hurricane stores and supplies, as we do on regular intervals, and re confirming that the Regiment is prepared to do it's part in a possible deployment.

"We are also well into the process of advising troops to be prepared in the event should His Excellency decide to issue an embodiment order."

The Bermuda Hospitals Board has also activated its hurricane plan, organising staff to keep King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Centre and the Continuing Care Unit. "In the immediate aftermath of a storm, we have to be ready to care for people who may have been injured," said a BHB spokesperson. "This means we need enough staff who can get to the hospital, or stay on-site."

The Urgent Care Centre in St. David's will also be open throughout the storm and as long as the Causeway is closed. "This will ensure that anyone with injuries or illnesses can be cared for even if the east end is cut off."

The staff of the LF Wade International Airport are also preparing themselves for the storm, asking the public to avoid parking in the Long Term Parking area.

Airport Manager Aaron Adderley yesterday said: "We're not sure how much of a hit we'll be taking, but based on what happened during Fabian, we had some significant damage to vehicles in the parking area caused by the storm surge."

Those who have vehicles parked in the area are being asked to make arrangements to move them before the storm hits the Island.

While Mr. Adderly said that some amount of disturbance to flight schedules is expected, the extent of the delays would not be known until the storm is closer. Should the airport have to close, preparations are being made to get the airport running again as soon as possible.

"One of the biggest challenges we have is clearing debris washed onto the runway from the Works and Engineering waste facility, but we've talked to them and they've been extremely cooperative in minimising the need for cleanup," Mr. Adderly said.

Acting Labour, Home Affairs and Housing Minister Walter Roban called for the public to "use common sense" in the days before Hurricane Bill is expected to hit the Island.

"All forecast models show the storm will pass very close to the Island on Saturday," said Mr. Roban. "The radar clearly shows that it's a massive hurricane and we are certain to feel its effects as early as Thursday afternoon with high surf and increased wind conditions, particularly along south shore.

"The public are urged to use common sense over the next few days, particularly when it comes to swimming at our beaches."

The acting minister said that high surf warnings would be placed at all south shore beaches to warn the public.

Belco yesterday advised the public to be careful in the event of downed power lines, and to stay out of the way of rescue and restoration workers.

They also recommended customers to unplug sensitive electronics before the Hurricane hits, and asked them to report any blackouts by calling 955.

The Island's tourism industry is going to feel the impact of the storm. Both the Norwegian Dawn and the Norwegian Majesty will be leaving Bermuda ahead of schedule, while Explorer of the Seas and the Grandeur of the Seas have both cancelled their weekend trips. The Norwegian Spirit, previously scheduled to arrive Sunday morning, won't be arriving until at least late Sunday.

Yesterday, airline JetBlue announced that it would waive ticket change fees and fare differences to those who need to reschedule flights booked to or from the Island on Friday or Saturday.

Changes must be made before the travellers scheduled departure date, and customers can only change to flights between the same cities through Tuesday, if seats are available.

Sue Fuhrtz, Manager at Nine Beaches, said that while some visitors have decided to leave the Island before the Hurricane is expected to hit, preparations have already been made for those who decide to stay.

"We'll be moving people out of the cabanas if the winds are too high, and we'll be bringing them to the main building. It'll be a big hurricane party.

"We sent out a letter to all of our guests and we've planned a meeting for all the guests to keep them informed."

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