Hurricane Watch in effect for Nicole
A Hurricane Watch and at Tropical Storm Warning have been put into effect as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to approach the island.
As of this morning, the storm is expected to pass within 25 nautical miles of the island - considered a direct hit - as a Category 1 hurricane.
The 6am report from Bermuda Weather Service today showed that Nicole’s closes point of approach is expected to be on Thursday at about 8am. At that point, it could be packing winds of 80 knots, verging on a Category 2.
The US-based National Hurricane Centre has estimated that Bermuda has a more than 90 per cent chance of experiencing tropical storm-force winds within the next five days.
But given the unpredictable nature of the system in the last week, flipping from a weak tropical storm into a full-blown hurricane, it could still change course and strength.
Already the Emergency Measures Organisation has swung into action with a meeting convened late yesterday afternoon.
Senator Jeff Baron, the Minister of National Security, has urged residents to make sure their storm supplies are topped up and advised locals to watch the regular updates of the BWS, which is tracking the storm.
He said residents should have ensured that their storm preparations were completed by last night, at the very latest early today.
“Nicole is a serious threat to Bermuda, and we cannot afford to have complacency with this storm,” he said. “The Bermuda Weather Service has confirmed that this will be a strong, slow moving Category 1 hurricane and I cannot emphasise enough the critical importance of residents securing their homes and completing their preparations well in advance of this storm.”
The BWS advised that Bermuda could expect to experience hazardous conditions including heavy rain, thunderstorms, hurricane force winds, increasing seas and dangerous surf currents associated with the storm.
The EMO will meet again today after which more advisories will be issued.
Three cruise ships have already cancelled visits because of weather concerns.
The Grandeur of the Seas had been scheduled to arrive in port yesterday, while both the AIDAluna and the Norwegian Breakaway had been expected to arrive tomorrow.
Inevitably, flights will also be cancelled although no announcements have been forthcoming.
However, the storms have not affected the Norwegian Dawn, which is already at Dockyard.
At 6am today, Nicole was about 317 nautical miles south of the island, moving north at five knots with winds between 50 and 60 knots.
According to the weathermen, it strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane tomorrow with 75-knot winds and will be even fiercer as it approached the island.
Seas around Bermuda are predicted to become rough this evening as Nicole continues her approach.
Updates will also be reported on The Royal Gazette website.
BWS reports during the past week have demonstrated the fickle nature of Nicole, swinging from one track to another.
It has been the same with Hurricane Matthew, which swept across the Caribbean, claiming almost a thousand lives in Haiti alone and causing untold damage.
While it weakened after hitting the East Coast of the United States, it again destructed homes, causing heavy flooding — at last count, 16 people had been killed.
Yesterday, Mr Baron said he joined the community in expressing heartbreak at the “devastating and tragic” loss of life.
He added that he had reached out this weekend to the West Indian Association as a gesture of compassion and goodwill.
“It’s extremely heartbreaking to see the reports coming out of Haiti and to learn of the tremendous loss of life resulting from Hurricane Matthew,” he said. “Our thoughts are with the entire nation of Haiti at this time. Hurricane Matthew by all accounts was a very devastating storm and its effects will be experienced for some time to come.”
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