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Hurricane warning now in effect for Bermuda

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Lightning bisects the sky on Tuesday night in this photograph taken from Gibbs Hill, Southampton facing west over Southampton and Somerset. This lighting strike is just to the south of the Caroline Bay Marina (Photograph by Andy Detzer)

A hurricane warning is now in effect for the island as meteorologists forecast Hurricane Fiona will bring strong winds to the island as it passes just over 100 miles from Bermuda early tomorrow morning.

Bermuda Weather Service forecasters said in their noon forecast that moderate southeast winds will increase to become strong to tropical storm force by early evening, then rapidly escalate to become storm to hurricane force late night into early tomorrow.

Hurricane Fiona Preparation: Pictured - Gosling Brothers Limited, Front Street. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

They said: “The forecast now calls for south-southeast winds of 75 to 90mph gusting to 110mph during the peak of Fiona’s passage early tomorrow morning, most likely just before sunrise.

“These conditions could occur at other times, especially in squalls or heavier showers and thunderstorms within active rain bands to increase winds locally to hurricane force with squally gusts 15-20 knots higher than the sustained speed.”

The forecast said the island can also expect 12 to 18 hours of tropical storm conditions as the storm passes.

The Government has issued a warning about possible flooding and those in the western part of the island and areas prone to flooding are being urged to make preparations ahead of time.

As of noon today, the storm was centred 410 miles southwest of the island, moving north-northeast at 15mph.

Getting ready: Preparations are underway for Hurricane Fiona (Photograph Akil Simmons)

The latest Bermuda Weather Service forecast said that the closest point of approach is expected to be about 116 miles to the west-northwest at 5am.

The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that as of this morning the storm was still Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130mph, however it is expected to be a Category 3 when it passes Bermuda.

“Little change in strength is expected today,” NOAA said. “Some weakening is expected to begin tonight or Friday, but Fiona is forecast be a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds when it moves over Nova Scotia Friday night and Saturday.

“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles.

“A NOAA Saildrone located about 50 miles east of the centre has recently reported sustained winds of 77mph.”

Michelle Pitcher, meteorologist for the Bermuda Weather Service, said at a press conference yesterday afternoon that the island can expect 12 to 18 hours of tropical storm conditions as the storm passes.

Ms Pitcher said: “Hurricane Fiona is expected to give us strong tropical storm force winds. We expect winds to start arriving late Thursday evening with the strongest winds coming at the height of the storm, which would be at the closest point of approach.

“We could also briefly experience a window of sustained hurricane force winds due to the proximity of Fiona, these winds would especially be in the western marine area, the western parishes and elevated or exposed places.”

She added that the storm is also expected to bring larger waves and stronger storm surge than other recent storms and coastal flooding was expected with a storm surge of 3ft.

High tide, coming shortly after the storm’s closest point of approach at 7.35am, is expected to heighten the impact of the storm surge and flooding.

Take Fiona seriously: Steven Cosham, national disaster coordinator, and Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, at today’s press conference

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, said that the last bus today will depart at 9pm while ferry service will halt by 4.10pm.

Government offices and services will otherwise operate normally until 5pm on Thursday.

“The airport remains open, and some flights are scheduled as normal,” Mr Weeks added. “We have been advised however that the Air Canada flight for Friday has been brought forward to Thursday.”

Public schools will be closed on Friday and there will be no trash collection that day.

He added that the Government would be “more definitive” about how Government services would be impacted at that time but he said that it should be expected that Government offices would not reopen until the roads are cleared.

Mr Weeks said that the Government would also announce today if the emergency shelter would be opened. It is understood that, if required, CedarBridge Academy would be used for the shelter.

While the island is likely to avoid the worst of the storm, Mr Weeks urged the public to be prepared and stay out of the water.

“This storm will cause significant, abnormal surf and surge. The ocean and maritime conditions will be very dangerous,” he said. “The Parks Department will post high surf warning signs at our public beaches and parks from Somerset to Cooper’s Island.

“My public safety message to residents, visitors, daredevils, boaters and thrill seekers is simple – stay out of the water. Please don’t put your lives and the lives of our lifeguards and emergency responders at risk.”

Bermuda weather Service 9pm update (www.weather.bm)

Ms Pitcher noted that the BWS Doppler radar was out of order because of a technical issue but efforts were under way to resolve the problem.

“Of course the timing of this challenge is not ideal, however please be assured that the absence of an operational weather radar does not significantly impact the ability of the BWS to provide accurate weather forecasts to the public.

“We have a wide array of satellite imagery, observational instruments, flight reconnaissance, weather balloon data and numerous modelling tools we routinely use.”

Hurricane preparations

In advance of Hurricane Fiona, Bermuda residents are advised to:

· Make any small repairs around the home.

· Secure outdoor furniture.

· Review family plans and update them with any changes to phone numbers and other important information.

· Stock up on any medical prescriptions that your family and pets require and ensure you have at least two weeks supply on hand.

· Check your hurricane kit to make sure you have working flashlights, a portable radio with spare batteries and a stock of non-perishable food to last your family for seven days.

· Ensure your house insurance policy is up to date.

· Check on your vulnerable neighbours and ask them if they need any help with their preparations.

Residents are also encouraged to stay abreast of ‎updates regarding Tropical Storm Fiona by visiting www.weather.bm

Mr Weeks said yesterday that the Bermuda Police Service, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Department of Parks, the Ministry of Public Works and Belco are ready for the storm.

He added: “Now is the time to be finalising your preparations.

“We are anticipating that Fiona will cause some issues for those living in low lying coastal areas who have had flooding in the past. So please, we are urging these residents to take the necessary safety precautions.”

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Published September 22, 2022 at 12:26 pm (Updated September 22, 2022 at 12:54 pm)

Hurricane warning now in effect for Bermuda

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