Hurricane Franklin to weaken but people still urged to be prepared
Hurricane Franklin has weakened to a Category 3 hurricane and is expected to weaken further as it passes to the island’s northwest.
While the system is predicted to fall to a Category 2 storm by the time it passes this afternoon, the island is likely to face sustained winds of 23mph to 35mph, with gusts of up to 52mph.
With its approach imminent, Skyport announced that all United Airlines and American Airlines flights scheduled for today had been cancelled.
American Airlines will accommodate affected passengers with two extra flights tomorrow.
A Philadelphia flight will arrive at 9.15am and leave at 10am, while a Charlotte flight lands at 10.20am and departs at 11.05am.
The spokeswoman added yesterday: “Officials at Skyport can now confirm that Air Canada has cancelled its scheduled inbound and outbound flights between Toronto and Bermuda (AC 1818/1819) for Wednesday, August 30, as a result of expected weather conditions.
“Skyport advised other passengers booked for tomorrow to monitor flight status and examine rebooking options if needed.”
Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, urged the public to make sure they were prepared for the storm.
“As we are within 24 hours of Hurricane Franklin’s closest approach to our shores, we are reminding residents to remain aware and continue to monitor the storm forecasts from the Bermuda Weather Service,” Mr Weeks said.
“While the current projections indicate that the impact will likely be limited, we must always prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our community.
“We are also reminding residents that the BWS is the official weather authority for the island. And it’s advisable to carefully scrutinise other information sources to ensure accuracy and reliability.”
Public services are expected to run as normal today; however, the public are urged to stay tuned for updates in case there are any weather-related disruptions.
Hurricane Franklin’s closest point of approach to Bermuda is now forecast to be 6pm, when it will pass about 165 miles to the northwest of the island.
In its latest update, the BWS said the storm is expected to weaken before it makes its closest point of approach.
The 1609 restaurant at the Hamilton Princess and Beach Club is closing today and on Wednesday because of Hurricane Franklin.
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The hurricane, the first major storm of the 2023 Atlantic season, ramped up to Category 4 strength as it continued north towards Bermuda, but the storm weakened to a Category 3.
Forecasts show tropical storm force winds will likely affect the northwestern and norther marine area between 10am and 6pm today, but the storm is not expected to bring significant rainfall.
Seas inside the reef are anticipated to reach between 5ft and 6ft, with limited surge owing to the storm’s passage corresponding with the changing tide from high to low.
High-surf warning signs have been posted at South Shore marine parks and will be placed in select areas along the North Shore marine parks.
The red flag is flying at the tower at Horseshoe Bay, indicating the highest hazard warning for potential swimmers.
Lifeguard services at Horseshoe Bay will be suspended by the end of the day owing to rapidly deteriorating conditions.
While there is no Hurricane Warning in effect for Bermuda, a tropical storm warning is in place.
As of 6pm on Tuesday the hurricane was still about 305 miles west-southwest of the island and moving north-northeast at 12mph.
The US National Hurricane Centre said: “A north-northeastward to northeastward motion with a faster forward speed is expected during the next few days.
“On the forecast track, the centre of Franklin is expected to pass to the northwest of Bermuda on Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 125mph with higher gusts.
“Franklin is a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Steady weakening is forecast during the next several days, but Franklin will remain a hurricane through late this week.
“Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the centre, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles.
“NOAA Buoy 41048 west of Bermuda recently reported a sustained wind of 43mph and a gust of 59mph.”
Government officials were also watching the potential approach late this week of a second threat in the form of Hurricane Idalia.
Idalia was this morning still in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to build into another major hurricane today as it approaches the northwest coast of Florida.
Projections have Idalia crossing over Florida and southern Georgia with the possibility of tracking in a steady arc towards Bermuda’s north by the end of this weekend.
The NHC said: “A faster motion towards the north and north-northeast is expected through early Wednesday while Idalia approaches the Gulf coast of Florida.
“A turn towards the northeast and east-northeast is forecast late Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the centre of Idalia near or along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas.”
The BWS has said the storm is not yet considered a threat to the island as its closest point of approach within the next three days is expected to be about 464 miles west-northwest of Bermuda at noon on Friday.
It warns the storm could come closer after that time.
The BWS said: “Winds gradually ease moderate on Thursday before increasing moderate to strong on Friday.
“Later on Friday potentially sees the return of wet weather as Idalia approaches from the northwest. Seas ramp once more to a rough state.”
September and October are especially critical months in the season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.