Fabian: A blow by blow account
August 29, 2003: Tropical Depression #10 reaches hurricane strength 1,450 nautical miles southeast of Bermuda and is given the name Hurricane Fabian.
August 30: Hurricane Fabian becomes a Category 3 storm, but is still forecast to pass well to the west of the Island.
September 2: The storm’s predicted path veers closer to the Bermuda. Fabian is expected to merely graze the Island, bringing high seas, heavy rain and winds reaching 60kph.
September 3: Fabian strengthens into a Category 4 storm as its predicted path gets even closer to the Island. Updated forecasts predict the storm will pass just 30 miles to the Island’s west.
September 4: Meteorologists forecast Hurricane Fabian will strike the Island dead on, warning it could be the strongest storm to hit Bermuda in 40 years. While the storm weakens to a Category 3 system, the Island is expected to experience ten hours of hurricane force wind.
September 5: The day of the storm.
Light showers begin at around 8.20am, with winds on the Island reaching tropical storm strength shortly after 9.30am and hurricane force by 2.15pm.
At around 2.30pm, PC Stephen Symons and PC Nicole O’Connor attempt to cross the Causeway with police station duty officer Gladys Saunders. They, along with mason Manuel Pacheco, are swept overboard.
At around 4pm, wind sensors at the LF Wade International Airport stop working due to the storm surge, estimated to be between six and eight feet. Half an hour later Harbour Radio records a gust of 143kph - moments before its wind sensor mast breaks.
Hurricane Fabian reaches its closest point of approach at 5.30pm, with the centre of the storm 20 miles to the Island’s west. At around the same time, gusts of 130kph are recorded.
Wind speeds fall to tropical storm strength at 10.38pm.
During the course of the day the walls of the Causeway are torn away by the wind and the waves, while a section of South Shore Road in Smiths is extensively damaged.
Several notable buildings are also damaged by the storm, including the House of Assembly, City Hall, St George’s Town Hall, St George’s Preparatory School, Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse, Sonesta Beach Hotel, the Fairmont Southampton Hotel and the Somerset Cricket Club. Around 25,000 homes and businesses lose power.
September 6: Winds fall below tropical storm level just before 3am. During the day, clean-up efforts begin across the Island with Regiment soldiers and members of the public joining Works and Engineering crews in clearing the roads.
September 7: The body of PC Symons is discovered near the oil docks on Ferry Reach at around 3pm.
September 8: The first two flights since the storm land in Bermuda, while public transportation resumes in a limited capacity.
September 28: Belco announces electricity has returned to all but a handful of homes.
October 2003: Traffic on the Causeway returns to normal.
Spring 2004: Fairmont Southampton reopens for business in April, while the Sonesta reopens in May.
Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organisation retires “Fabian” as a storm name due to the damage to the Island.
September 2005: St George’s Preparatory School reopens following extensive repairs.
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