Nicole upgraded to Cat 2 hurricane
Fickle Hurricane Nicole has strengthened to a Category 2 storm but the closest point of approach within three days has passed.
The system, which is still considered a potential threat to Bermuda, continues to baffle forecasters as it meanders erratically to the south.
According to the Bermuda Weather Service, Nicole was 301 nautical miles south of Bermuda, packing winds of about 100mph, at 6am.
It was heading north towards the island but has now made a turn to the south and is expected to weaken to tropical storm-strength by Sunday afternoon, before again moving north to the west of Bermuda.
The long-term forecast still shows that Nicole will pass to the island's southwest on Tuesday with winds having weakened to about 63mph.
Last night, the Minister of National Security, Senator Jeff Baron, advised that the Emergency Measures Organisation was keeping a close watch on the storm.
“Through updates from the BWS, the Ministry of National Security and the EMO continue to pay close attention to this latest storm,” Mr Baron said.
“This has been an extremely active hurricane season and this was predicted by meteorologist experts earlier this summer.
“We will continue to do our due diligence in monitoring Hurricane Nicole and convey any important safety updates as necessary to the public. In the meantime as I have advocated all season, I encourage residents to ensure they have adequate storm supplies and to stay abreast of the latest weather forecasts on www.weather.bm.”
Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew was skirting the coast of Florida this morning with potentially catastrophic winds of 130mph. More than two million people across the Southeast had been warned to flee inland in advance of the storm, which is considered the most powerful storm to threaten the US Atlantic coast in more than a decade.
Reuters reported yesterday that Matthew had killed at least 283 people in the Caribbean as it sliced through Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas — most of the victims have been in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.
“This storm's a monster,” Florida Governor Rick Scott warned as it started lashing the state with rain and wind around nightfall yesterday.
“I'm going to pray for everybody's safety,” he added.
As of 6am this morning, Matthew was about 40 miles east-southeast of Cape Canaveral in Florida and 90 miles southeast of Daytona Beach. It is moving parallel and just offshore to the East Coast.
As it moved north last night, it stayed about 100 miles off South Florida, sparing the 4.4 million people in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas from its most punishing effects.
“We were lucky this time,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
The hurricane was expected to blow ashore — or come dangerously close to doing so — over the east coast of the Florida peninsular through tonight and near or over the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina tomorrow.
Mr Baron said the EMO and the BWS had also kept a watchful eye on Matthew.
“Hurricane Matthew has already proven to be a very powerful and deadly hurricane, so we are also closely monitoring its track,” he added. “The Ministry of National Security has been in correspondence with key emergency personnel in Florida, and I have conveyed that we are certainly keeping the residents of Florida in our thoughts as they prepare to deal with Hurricane Matthew.”