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Paulette: as it happens

8.20pm:David Burt, the Premier, said: “After a day and night of high winds, driving rain and exceptional waves we are on the other side of Hurricane Paulette, thankfully without any loss of life, serious personal injury and less damage to property than we might have expected.

“We have weathered the storm.”

He added that the number of homes without power had reduced to 16,000 after Belco crews managed to restore electricity to parts of the island.

Renée Ming, the Minister of National Security, said that the Causeway will open at 9pm.

She added that 50 people were housed at the Government shelter at CedarBridge Academy during the storm and more residents attended after damage to their properties.

Ms Ming said that the Bermuda Hospitals Board reported two births, both boys, in the early hours of this morning.

3.45pm:Renée Ming, the Minister of National Security, asked residents to remain at home and off the roads while assessments of the island are carried out.

She added: “These assessments are critical to us being able to give an all-clear and open up.

“We are mindful of the time of the day that we actually are starting the assessments because we would want to have a good bit of sunlight.”

Ms Ming said “the chances are” that the Causeway will not reopen today.

She added that Belco teams have started looking at damage around the island so that “critical restoration work” can take place.

The Emergency Measures Organisation is expected to meet at 5pm and the public can expect an update at about 7pm or 7.30pm, the minister said.

3.10pm:The island's hurricane warning has been downgraded to a tropical storm warning, the Bermuda Weather Service director said.

Mark Guishard added: “We do still have hazardous conditions out there, so that tropical storm warning is anticipated until late evening — estimated around 9pm before we can remove that.”

He said that winds are between 40mph and 58mph, which Dr Guishard described as “unpleasant conditions ... but less dangerous”.

The BWS director added that sunset will be at 7.25pm.

1.40pm:The Emergency Measures Organisation remains under Red status because of hurricane force winds.

A Bermuda Weather Service spokesman said that Hurricane Paulette is still a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 98mph and gusts to about 120mph as it steadily moves out of our area.

The BWS explained that the “southern flanks” of Hurricane Paulette continued to affect the island “with bands of quite heavy, squally rain showers”.

Lightening was also reported and residents were advised they could hear thunder.

Conditions are expected to gradually improve later this afternoon and into the evening with the expectation that the hurricane warning can be downgraded to a tropical storm warning later.

Storm surge has affected low lying areas and seas reached up to 40ft outside of Bermuda.

12.30pm:The centre of Hurricane Paulette is about 63 miles north of the island, the Bermuda Weather Service director said.

Mark Guishard said that the storm still had maximum sustained winds of 100mph and could reach Category 4 strength but “not until it's well out of our area”.

He explained that Paulette was “gradually intensifying as it moves away” at about 14mph.

Dr Guishard said that the hurricane warning will remain in place until at least 3pm, when the team will consider whether or not it can be downgraded.

The BWS director said it is a “very busy time in the tropics” with five named storms and another two areas being monitored.

But he added that the organisation would “reserve judgment” for now on any potential impact of Tropical Storm Teddy, which the National Hurricane Centre said this morning was over the east-central tropical Atlantic.

11.30am:The hurricane warning will remain in place until at least 3pm, the Bermuda Weather Service director said.

Mark Guishard added that Paulette is still a Category 2 storm with winds of almost 100mph and it continues to intensify as it moves away.

He explained that a significant band of rain south of the island is expected to move slowly north with “occasional hurricane force winds with higher gusts through the early afternoon”.

Dr Guishard said that there is uncertainty around the time when the hurricane conditions will end.

He added: “Paulette is undergoing intensification and getting bigger. It is a strong Cat 2, not far off a Cat 3.”

After consultation with the National Hurricane Centre, the BWS forecast hurricane force winds of up to 74mph to continue until 3pm and that winds will not go below 57mph until 4pm.

10am: Paulette, now a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of just below 100mph, is centred 40 miles north of Bermuda.

But the storm is far from over, the Bermuda Weather Service warned.

A spokesman said: “We remain in hurricane force winds.

“We're seeing some heavy bands yet to come through from the south, so people must remain indoors.”

8.30am: The BWS reports the eye of Hurricane Paulette is moving away from the island.

A spokesman added: “We expect hurricane force winds to leave our area around mid-morning and then tropical storm force winds to leave late this afternoon.”

8am: Belco reported close to 23,000 customers without power an hour ago. Reports from the public indicate the lights have gone out in other areas with the return of storm winds — which have shifted direction now that Hurricane Paulette continues north over the island.

7.15am: Storm winds resume after a prolonged lull, as the eye of Hurricane Paulette finishes passing over Bermuda.

6am Dr Mark Guishard, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said parts of the island are getting into the eye of Hurricane Paulette.

He said: “Paulette is still a category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 knots.

The National Hurricane Centre reports that we should get into near calm conditions within the hour. This has been a remarkably accurate forecast track — recall the consistent prediction yesterday of a 6am closest point of approach right over the island.

“Barometric pressure currently reads 973mb here at BWS and it is starting to bottom out.”

Dr Guishard added that the BWS had taken the opportunity of relatively light winds to launch a weather balloon to record some information from the eye of the storm to feed back to NHC.

He added: “In addition we have been sending regular snapshots of the radar imagery for their updates, which will enable them to incorporate the most up to date local data in their advisories.

“More data is being sent from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Bermuda Radio at Fort George, as well as some other private stations.”

3.30am Dr. Mark Guishard, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said the organisation was “suffering connectivity issues so we are on back-up power and cellular service”.

He added that “ will necessarily have some down time because of this”.

Dr Guishard said: “However, we can share updates via Facebook and will continue our hourly phone-ins to the Emergency Broadcast Station 100.1FM at 30 minutes past the hour.”

He added: “The eye of Category 1 Hurricane Paulette is approaching Bermuda with hurricane force gusts evident from 2am local time. The northern eye wall is seen on radar about 10 miles or 16km to the southeast at 3am local time approaching and likely to affect Bermuda with hurricane force winds over the next hour.”

3am: As blasts of wind and rain intensify, the National Hurricane Centre reports: “The eye of Paulette is steadily nearing Bermuda.

“Although it has appeared slightly ragged at times in IR imagery, radar imagery from Bermuda and the NOAA P3 show that the eye and eye wall of Paulette are very well defined in all quadrants but the southwest.”

Further outages are showing on Belco's website across Pembroke and the City of Hamilton.

2.30am: Widespread power cuts have hit all parts of the island, Belco's online map revealed this morning as the stronger bands of Hurricane Paulette begin to strike Bermuda. One section of Warwick showed 665 customers without power.

2.15am: The Bermuda Weather Service's radar and other weather imagery online will be used as part of the United States National Hurricane Centre's hourly updates, according to Mark Guishard, the BWS director.

Dr Guishard said this was “something they've not done before”.

He added: “This collaboration will not only give us critical real-time information, leveraging our technology and their hurricane expertise; it will also help develop valuable insights for the post-storm analysis. Of course, this is contingent on ongoing connectivity and uninterrupted communications between us.”

A collaborative update at 1am showed Hurricane Paulette packing maximum sustained winds of 85mph.

12.57am: A Government spokeswoman said: “Paulette, currently a Category 1 hurricane, is expected to continue to gradually intensify as it passes Bermuda and is forecast to pass us as a Category 2 hurricane.”

12.40am: Scattered power outages have shown on Belco's website, with about 115 customers in the dark over various parts of St George's, 11 customers affected in the Tucker's Point area of Hamilton Parish, 34 in southwest Devonshire, and single-customer outages showing in Flatts and northern Warwick.

As of 12.30am, the Emergency Measures Organisation announced it was at Red status — meaning that emergency vehicles would not be dispatched during the storm's height.

12.15am: Paulette, now about 75 miles southeast of Bermuda, remains on course for a virtually direct impact with the island by 6am, according to the Bermuda Weather Service's latest update. It is still a Category 1 storm, but increasing in strength.

Midnight: The National Hurricane Centre's midnight update states that “some additional strengthening appears likely as Paulette approaches Bermuda during the next few hours.

“Further intensification is possible after the hurricane accelerates northeastward away from Bermuda and Paulette is expected to be at or near major hurricane strength on Tuesday.”

Hurricane-strength winds are on course to reach the island by around 3am, the NHC said.

9.15pm: A band of rainfall, rotating in the anticlockwise motion of tropical storms in the northern hemisphere, can now be seen swinging towards the island at the edge of a large system on the Bermuda Weather Service's radar. The Emergency Measures Organisation has announced the closure of the Causeway.

6pm: High tide tonight — the last one before the onset of Hurricane Paulette early tomorrow — comes as South Shore residents report heavy breakers and high seas in low-lying areas.

Residents were advised at this afternoon's press conference: if you live in a low-lying area and know your house is prone to flooding, look at our plans and consider going somewhere else during the hurricane.

Winds inside the reef are 4ft to 8ft at present, and 15ft to 30ft outside, as hazardous southeasterly swells roll in ahead of the hurricane.

4.30pm: September is typically Bermuda's busiest month for hurricanes, but Steve Cosham, the national disaster coordinator, warned against making comparisons between Paulette and other Category 2 storms of Septembers gone by.

Mr Cosham said this afternoon: “If you speak to the weather service, they will tell you not to compare it to other hurricanes.

“Every hurricane is like a person; it's a little bit different, has a different nuance.

“It's dangerous to compare one to the other, because you might set up an expectation that is not going to happen.”

3pm: As winds slowly ramp up, Belco has reported two outages: one has hit the Lover's Lane area of Paget — and another outage shows in central Devonshire, which the utility's website reported affects just one customer thus far. The Royal Gazette will update this page as details come in.

Hurricane swells batter the South Shore near Devonshire Bay (File photograph)

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Published September 13, 2020 at 4:20 pm (Updated September 14, 2020 at 9:31 pm)

Paulette: as it happens

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