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Storm gusts hit hurricane force

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Bermuda started to return to normal yesterday after a powerful storm battered the island with hurricane force gusts.

Mark Guishard, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said that information about Thursday’s storm was still being compiled.

But he added that evidence suggested that winds approached hurricane strength in some exposed areas.

Dr Guishard said the highest readings reported on “trusted instruments” were sustained winds of 72mph with gusts of 87mph at the Marine Operations Centre in St George’s.

The airport recorded sustained winds of 52mph and gusts of 75mph and the former helipad on the eastern side of the Causeway reported sustained winds of 60mph and gusts of 82mph.

Dr Guishard said: “We certainly did have storm force winds and hurricane force gusts.

“The duration of those strongest winds seemed to last until about 4am before starting to noticeably drop off.

“For more westerly exposed areas, those strongest winds lasted for another hour or so before dropping.”

He said the BWS did not have any verified measurements of waves over the storm, but there had been reports of a storm surge in some areas.

Dr Guishard added: “We have seen some anecdotal reports from around the island that indicate that some low-lying areas around the fringes of Hamilton Harbour had suffered from some slight inundation – we have noted that from posts online.”

Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, said members of the public had followed safety advice, which had helped to prevent serious incidents.

She added there was minimal damage to buildings and foliage and Belco was at work to restore power to all its customers.

Ms Ming said: “There have been very minimal reports of damage, and we are very thankful for that.

“I did receive something earlier today about a tree being down in Warwick, but other than that we were blessed.”

She said all public schools reopened last Friday except for Paget Primary, which was without power in the morning, and CedarBridge Academy, which moved to remote learning so the school could be used as an emergency shelter.

Ms Ming said 19 people took advantage of the shelter – 17 men and two women – and the shelter remained open until Saturday morning..

She added that Government offices reopened as usual last Friday, the airport was open and a British Airways flight carrying 19,500 Covid-19 vaccines from the UK arrived on Friday.

Vaccination centres were open from 9am to 1pm last Friday are expected to return to their usual hours of 9am to 3pm today.

Bus services were mostly back on the roads at 9am last Friday, but ferries were still tied up as high winds continued.

Firefighters responded to 13 emergency calls during the storm.

A Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said calls included five automatic alarms, six pole fires and an emergency medical call.

An emergency special service request was also made when a householder was unable to secure a window in high winds.

The BFRS spokesman added that pole fires were spread across the island, including Somerset Road and West Side Road in Sandys, Mullet Bay Road in St George’s, Devon Spring Road and Middle Road in Devonshire, and Admiral Walk in Southampton.

The Bermuda Marine Operations Centre said it received four reports of damage caused by the storm including one vessel – Island Spirit – which was torn from its moorings.

A BMOC spokesman said they also received reports of boats in Riddells Bay, Warwick and Coot Pond, St George’s being low in the water.

Another boat in Dolly’s Bay, St David’s dragged its moorings.

The Bermuda Weather Service predicted that gales would continue as a low pressure system to the north continued to deepen as it moved away from the island.

The forecast said: “Winds will continue to subside into the weekend as high pressure nudges in from the west.”

A cabin cruiser lies bow down at Lower Ferry, Paget after last night's winter storm. (Photo by Allan Davidson)
On a lee shore: Two cabin cruisers lie against the dock of the Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club after losing their moorings in last night's winter storm. (Photograph by Allan Davidson)

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Published January 30, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 31, 2021 at 6:24 pm)

Storm gusts hit hurricane force

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