Storm update: Winds expected to strengthen rapidly
Gales with storm force gusts are expected to quickly develop this afternoon, bringing wet weather as the front passes over us, the Bermuda Weather Service said today.
Winds are then expected to veer west this evening with a further, more vigorous pulse in a secondary trough, resulting in storm force winds with hurricane force gusts lasting until just after midnight.
A flight due to carry 19,500 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Bermuda was pushed back 24 hours because of a winter storm expected to batter Bermuda today.
Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, said yesterday afternoon that Government services would be largely unaffected and the LF Wade International Airport would remain open.
But a spokeswoman from Skyport confirmed that the British Airways flight scheduled to arrive at 6.10pm today has been pushed back until tomorrow.
Flight BA2233, which was scheduled to arrive from Gatwick today carrying enough Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 9,700 people, will instead arrive at 6.10pm tomorrow.
Similarly flight 2232, from Bermuda to Gatwick, will depart at 7.55pm on Saturday instead of tomorrow.
Mark Guishard, director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said yesterday a storm warning had been issued in advance of the winter storm.
Dr Guishard said: “Conditions first thing (Thursday) morning will be fairly pleasant, but don’t let that catch you off guard.
“A rapid deterioration of the weather by lunchtime will be evident.
“We are expecting gale force winds to have started by early afternoon and then occasional storm force winds of 48 knots or more and hurricane force gusts are anticipated by late afternoon through evening.”
As of last night, the BWS warned of the “calm before the storm” this morning before winds rapidly increase to gale force, peaking in the late afternoon and evening.
Sustained winds are expected to peak at between 46 and 58mph with gusts reaching between 75 and 81mph.
Ms Ming said at a press conference Government offices, the Causeway, and the LF Wade International Airport were all expected to remain open.
She said ferry service will halt at 11am today until further notice while public bus service will stop at 5pm – with the last bus departing at 4pm.
Bus service is expected to resume as normal tomorrow morning.
Government schools will close half an hour early today, with classes to end at 3pm instead of 3.30pm, and reopen normally on Friday.
However CedarBridge Academy classes will be held remotely today and tomorrow as the school will be used as an emergency shelter from 11am tomorrow until Saturday morning.
Ms Ming said Covid-19 vaccinations scheduled for today and tomorrow will go ahead, although patients are asked to wait in their cars until they are called to come in for their shot.
She said: “We don’t want people lined up outside the facility in the wind and the rain.”
Ms Ming said work crews from the Ministry of Public Works will ensure roads are clear once the worst of the storm has passed.
Trash collection is also expected to be unaffected, although she urged residents to make sure their trash and recycling containers are secured to prevent them from being blown about.
She said: “We have been down this road before, and I ask you to exercise caution and common sense. We will get through this.”
All three Bermuda banks have announced that they will shut their doors early today.
The Bank of Butterfield has said it will close at 3pm and will open an hour late at 10am tomorrow.
HSBC and Clarien Banks will both meanwhile close at 2pm on today and open at 10am tomorrow.