Hurricane Rafael spares Bermuda
Bermuda was battered with strong winds and rain from Hurricane Rafael last night but there were no reports of any major damage or floods.
At its closest point the centre of the storm came within 102 nautical miles east southeast of the Island, according to updates as of 10.30pm last night. The hurricane was packing sustained winds of 75 knots (86 miles per hour) and gusts of 90 knots (104 miles per hour) according to Athena Williams, a forecast meteorologist with Bermuda Weather Service.
A total of 1.65 inches of rain had fallen on the Island in the previous six hours up to press time last night.
Ms Williams said the maximum sustained winds experienced were 45 knots (52 miles per hour) at the airfield in St George’s just before 9pm and 42 knots (48 miles per hour) at Commissioner’s Point in Dockyard. The latter location experienced gusts of 55 knots (63 miles per hour.)
Despite high spring tides there were no reports of major flooding or incidents, according to the police and fire services.
"Thankfully, Bermuda has again fared well through a storm,” said Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief.
“Hurricane Rafael mainly brought rain and some high winds but essentially paid a glancing blow to the Island.”
He added: “The Emergency Measures Organisation will continue to take any named storm seriously and always urge residents to be prepared. Better safe than sorry.”
The Corporation of St George's sandbagged the town square as a precaution, but Mayor Kenneth Bascome told The Royal Gazette just before press time: “I am down in the town square as I speak and the tide is still one foot below the dock. The tide isn’t even dancing the boats, and it’s not that windy. There doesn’t appear to be any sort of damage.”
The Causeway remained open.
Power outages affected around 1,000 Belco customers in various parts of the Island. Spokeswoman Susan McGrath-Smith said an outage of 33 minutes affected approximately 260 customers in the Pitts Bay Road area of Pembroke around 7.30am. Another affected 115 customers in St David’s between 1.09pm and 2.33pm. A third hit the Prospect area of Devonshire between 3.09pm and 4.16pm, affecting 20 customers.
As the hurricane moved away from the Island, Belco estimated a further 600 customers were without power due to outages that occurred around 8 and 10pm when the storm was nearest to Bermuda. In the west 475 customers in the Camp Hill area were hit, while a further 130 lost power in the central parishes after major branch lines serving Tatem Hill, Tulo Valley and Ingham Vale went out.
Belco crews were last night working to restore power to customers.
Residents had been warned to stay indoors as the storm passed, and businesses and Government offices pulled their shutters down early.
The bad weather prompted the Progressive Labour Party to postpone the second night of the Annual Delegates’ Conference, which was due to feature a closing speech by party leader and Premier Paula Cox. It has been rescheduled for tonight.
There were also transport disruptions. Buses from Hamilton, Dockyard and St George’s ceased at 7.45pm and the ferry service to St George's was cancelled.
The airport remained open but a number of flights were cancelled including the Delta service from Boston, which had to turn around midway to Bermuda due to a problem with the communications radio on the plane.
Flights to and from London, Newark, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York and Miami were also cancelled or delayed.
Meanwhile the Bermuda College, which is in the midst of midterm exams, cancelled all classes after 5pm. The Community Education and Development programme was also affected and the National Library closed two hours early at 5pm.
Other businesses that closed early included HSBC Bermuda, Belco, Logic, Capital G, Gibbons Company and Bermuda Gas.
Some venues stayed open as usual throughout the storm, including the Bermuda Bistro at the Beach on Front Street.
Manager Jeremy Paris said the weather did not deter the customers. “We had a great little happy hour going on. People have been getting their dinners here rather than going home to cook. Nobody’s bothered about the storm and everybody’s fine,” he reported.
However, the Pickled Onion experienced a drop in trade due to the bad weather, with 151 guests up until 8.40pm compared to 450-500 on a normal day.
“It’s pretty slow right now, “ reported Dion Ming, the assistant manager. “We have had more tourists than locals and they have been enjoying the experience.”
The Bermuda Weather Service warned that hazardous surf and rip currents will persist today along the south shore, and the Island remained under a Tropical Storm Warning at press time