Bermuda blessed as Leslie skips east
Tropical Storm Leslie delivered lashing rains and gusts near hurricane force, but the sprawling storm luckily skipped east of the Island by about 145 miles.
Bermuda has been blessed, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief declared as the Emergency Measures Organisation gave the all clear at 6pm yesterday.
No injuries or major damage were reported, he said.
However, as of today, hurricane season is at its height, the Bermuda Weather Service warned — describing Leslie as an unusual system that proved consistently tough to predict.
Service director Kimberley Zuill said Leslie passed at noon yesterday, and would likely regain hurricane strength this morning as it heads north.
Bermudas worst-hit areas were exposed parts of the east and north, with the eastern and South Shore pounded by high surf in the lead-up to the storm.
Most flights were cancelled at LF Wade International Airport, but evening service from British Airways landed at about 7.15pm and set off around 9pm.
General Manager Aaron Adderley said the airports momentary closure yesterday was due to powerful crosswinds, but the facility opened again at 6pm.
Normal operations are expected today, he added, comparing Leslie to a winter gale.
The Causeway remained open. Government offices were set to reopen today. Buses were resuming service today, but the Sea Express Ferry is cancelled today while vessels and docks are inspected.
Somersfield Academy will also be closed today. Public schools open for teachers and principals today and tomorrow for students. Bermuda College and MSA are open as normal today.
Around the Island storm damage was limited to minor flooding, scattered power outages and downed vegetation. A Bermuda Maritime Operations spokesman reported a quiet time — people were well prepared.
The storm knocked out electricity for 452 along North Shore, Pembroke, until 4pm. A few hundred Devonshire customers also lost power for 35 minutes when a substation circuit went down.
Outages hit the vicinity of Seagull Lane in Spanish Point, and Spring Benny area of Sandys, until 6pm. There were about 23 other scattered power cuts, including Lighthouse Road in Southampton.
In the Grape Bay area of Paget, 213 customers lost power until 7pm, at which point only 26 around the Island remained in the dark. All but two were expected to be completed overnight.
As weather cleared last night authorities acknowledged that the Island had been spared what could have been a long battering.
Leslie was a comparatively unusual storm, the new Bermuda Weather Service director told The Royal Gazette.
Ms Zuill likened the system to 2009s Hurricane Bertha — from its stalling, the heavy seas on the South Shore, and the rainfall, which by 3pm yesterday had dumped 4.25 inches on the Island, with plenty more expected.
A 62 knot (71mph) blast of wind was recorded at Commissioners Point just after 9am; Bermuda Maritime Operations recorded 59 knots (68mph) at 3.30pm. Winds were consistently gale force, ranging from north to northwest.
Leslies sluggish approach to Bermuda made it very difficult to forecast unless you are receiving data directly from the system, Ms Zuill said.
This was accomplished when the US Hurricane Hunters went into Leslie on Wednesday afternoon.
When the system stalled, it evolved to create its own steering flow, ultimately killing off much of its earlier power by churning up deeper water that cooled the sea surface by 10F, she added.
Forecasters were better able to predict Leslies behaviour only by Friday, as incoming weather from the west started it moving.
Ms Zuill said that the public needed to appreciate how far storm winds can extend from the central dot of a system, and advised residents to monitor the weather services detailed marine forecasts online to get the best picture of what to expect.
Hotels reported no damage last night, and Elbow Beach Hotels manager during the storm, Lesley Stovell, said the beachfront restaurants were secure.
It looks like we dodged it, she said, adding that guests were enjoying the ocean spectacle.
In Hamilton, streets were strewn with palmetto leaves, and a traffic light was toppled at the junction of Burnaby and Church Streets.
As for shipping, Joe Simas of Meyer Shipping said vessels at sea had altered their courses to mitigate the storms wide-ranging swells, which extend to the US East Coast.
The cruise ship Norwegian Dawn will arrive in Dockyard tomorrow morning, then anchor in the Great Sound on Wednesday and ferry guests into Hamilton before departing at 5pm.
The container ship Somers Isles, also delayed, is to arrive tomorrow at 1pm; the Bermuda Islander remains on schedule for Thursday.
The Norwegian Star and Explorer of the Seas are not delayed, Mr Simas said.
Meanwhile, Leslie should rise to a Category 1 hurricane later today on its brisk course northwards.
Residents in Canadas eastern seaboard are battening down for its expected landfall in Newfoundland tomorrow.
l For more pictures of TS Leslie, visit our photo gallery section on www.royalgazette.com
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