Causeway to close 10am tomorrow
Hurricane Gonzalo will arrive as a strong Category 3 storm tomorrow — and out of what Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva advised was “an abundance of caution” the Causeway will close at 10am.
Gonzalo’s expected 8pm impact is close enough to the 5pm high tide for the risk of storm surge to increase, Bermuda Weather Service director Kimberley Zuill said.
Category 3 hurricanes have sustained winds of 111-129 mph. Ms Zuill said Gonzalo would likely arrive as “a solid three, whereas at the last advisory it was a three tapering down to a two”.
The BWS director also expressed great concern that even early tomorrow morning, gusts could carry projectiles and debris left over from Tropical Storm Fay.
“The Island is not in the state that it was before Fay,” Ms Zuill warned. “The winds will be able to dislodge things that are not stabilised.”
As Hurricane Gonzalo passes over, there is a strong chance of “strong bands of convection” developing in the eye wall, where high winds circle the “eye” of the hurricane. Gusts could be around 140 to 170mph.
“There will be a slight delay, but it will be very impactful,” she said.
The BWS continues to advise that about 27 hours of high winds will buffet the Island before Gonzalvo moves on to the northeast.
Ms Zuill was joined by Premier Michael Dunkley and Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva, as well Belco CEO Denton Williams.
Gonzalo will be “extremely large”, Mr Dunkley said, with “at least 24-hour storm force winds”. Tropical Storm force winds run from 44 to 62mph.
These conditions are likely to continue until 5am on Saturday.
“Stay inside and, particularly, stay off the road. There is already a high surf off the South Shore,” Mr Dunkley observed at 2.30pm, adding that the Department of Parks have already closed public beaches — and that no-one should attempt to surf or swim.
The HMS Argyll is headed to the Island to offer assistance after the storm, he said, and significant resources have been amassed at the East End. It is as yet impossible to say when the Causeway will be reopened.
CedarBridge Academy has been available from 3pm today as a shelter.
Mr Williams said Belco would maintain and adjust its system throughout the hurricane, and would only shut down if safety issues arose at the plant. He reminded residents to unplug sensitive appliances, and encouraged the public to avoid any downed lines, cables or poles.
Utility companies in the Caribbean have crews on standby to assist after the hurricane, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner said “perfect storm” conditions had conspired to bring about the 10am closure of the Causeway: 50 knot (60mph) winds from the southeast will be perpendicular to the bridge, meaning it will take the full brunt of Gonzalo’s arrival — plus there is a likelihood of storm surge.
Mr DeSilva urged the public not to go sightseeing after the hurricane, advising it was not just dangerous but “extremely unhelpful to the emergency services” attempting to clear the roads.
The Premier’s full statement follows below:
Good afternoon. Hurricane Gonzalo is continuing on its forecasted track towards Bermuda and therefore everyone should continue to prepare for significant wind and waves starting late tonight.
As I said yesterday, it is important that all preparations are completed this afternoon before the winds increase through the night.
This hurricane is a large storm and we should expect at least 24 hours of storm force winds.
During this time I want to encourage everyone to stay inside, and particularly off the roads.
Already, there is very high surf on the South Shore and the department of Parks is placing signs, warning the public that beaches are closed.
No one should take the risk of surfing or attempting to swim in these dangerous conditions.
Bermuda we can be confident in the preparation of all of the responsible agencies both in advance of this hurricane and for any eventuality in the aftermath.
Significant resources will be positioned in the east end of the Island should there be damage to the Causeway.
Likewise, full hurricane plans have been activated by the hospital and other agencies which will ensure responses to emergencies as soon as it is safe to do so.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Argyll is heading to Bermuda behind the storm and is available to provide considerable, skilled assistance should we have the need after the hurricane passes Bermuda.
There are some important advisories of which the public should take note:
• Government schools closed as of 1.30pm today
• The last public buses will leave Somerset and St. George’s at 6pm today
• Ferries will end their service at 7pm
• If your trash has not yet been collected please store it somewhere safe until after the storm
• There is a shelter available from 3pm today at CedarBridge Academy
• All residents in low lying residential areas should strongly consider evacuating their homes for higher ground
• Lastly, the Causeway will close at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.
The decision to close the Causeway is based on the forecasted, deteriorating conditions throughout Friday.
In the interest of public safety I am encouraging everyone to take notice of this closure and end their Causeway-related travel well before midnight tonight.
Bermuda, we are prepared.
Well rehearsed plans for most contingencies are enacted, and as we hope for the best, we are prepared for the worst.
We will come through this and once this serious storm has passed it will be for us to work together to restore our island home to normal.
Thank you and stay safe.
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