Island dodges worst of Franklin
Hurricane Franklin skimmed past Bermuda as a Category 2 storm late yesterday, with the island sustaining scattered power outages and cancelled flights.
The first major hurricane of the 2023 season postponed the launch of the island’s new air carrier, BermudaAir, scheduled to touch down yesterday ahead of its inaugural commercial flight booked for today.
Skyport, manager of the island’s airport, said BermudaAir planned to commence service tomorrow at the scheduled time.
United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada and Delta Air Lines cancelled flights, but the airport remained open, and regular service was set to continue today.
The edge of the hurricane brushed the island at 5pm as Franklin swept past some 150 miles northwest of Bermuda.
Power outages at that time included nearly 300 Belco customers in the dark in Paget.
The Bermuda Weather Service recorded a maximum wind speed of just over 40mph, with official figures for the storm to be given today.
Tropical storm force gusts affected the island’s northern marine area, with elevated and exposed areas on land taking the brunt of winds from the south through to the west.
Bermuda College closed early, the Blue Route ferry service was called off, and Hamilton’s weekly Harbour Nights event was postponed.
South Shore beaches had warning signs for rip currents.
Hurricane Franklin’s erratic course came with the storm shifting closer to the island than forecast, which the national security ministry highlighted as a reminder for residents to keep prepared as the island heads into the most active phase of hurricane season.
A question mark hung over the potential for Hurricane Idalia to approach the island towards the close of this weekend.
Last night the long-term projection from the BWS had the storm making an almost direct hit on the island at 3pm this Sunday, with winds of up to 50mph.
But predicting the storm’s path came with significant uncertainty.
The National Hurricane Centre said Idalia would likely slow as it approached the island at below hurricane force.
Idalia’s estimated track after leaving the US East Coast early today had the storm curving to the island’s southwest by Saturday — then swerving on a northeasterly course over Bermuda the next day.
An American man vacationing in Bermuda for the first time refused to let Hurricane Franklin ruin his trip.
Charles Washington, 59, said he came to the island for the very first time in mid-August and fell in love with the natural beauty.
He added that, upon learning of Hurricane Franklin's emergence, he had “no fears whatsoever”.
Mr Washington said: “I've never in my life seen a place so beautiful.
“The storm doesn't make a difference to me — I still love Bermuda.”
Mr Washington, from North Carolina, said that he decided to visit the island with his wife, a Bermudian who wanted to visit family.
He admitted that he did not learn about the danger of hurricanes until he was here — but added: “I would have come anyway.”
“I love this place.”
Mr Washington said that he had never been involved in a hurricane before.
He said that his wife gave him a rundown of how to protect himself, and that he learnt of the essentials to have during a hurricane, including a radio, cards, and a bottle of rum.
Mr Washington added that he helped secure the outside of his vacation residence in Southampton and planned to help paint the inside of his room during the coming storms.
Mr Washington acknowledged that his home state was likely to face Tropical Storm Idalia, which was then moving across Florida.
But he added that, if we were to face a storm, he would rather do it here.
“If the hurricane didn't get me here, then one would get me back home.
“There's nothing to be afraid of — if it's going to get you, it's going to get you.
“The only thing I can do is wait for it to come and leave.”
He added: "I'm waiting for the wind to blow some coconuts out of a tree.
"I never knew they grew on trees. I thought they came from a small plant or from underground, so I'm excited."
Mr Washington will be on the island until September 9.
He said that he hoped to perfect his motorcycle-riding skills before he left and that he would be back on the island as soon as possible.
Businesses at the West End shared their assessments of the storm yesterday.
Stanfield Brangman, the general manager of Café Amici in the Clocktower Mall in Dockyard, said that he and his staff started preparing on Tuesday.
He said that the restaurant had a routine of tying down furniture and reducing staff to a skeleton crew while the West End Development Corporation reinforced infrastructure.
“I've been down this road before,” Mr Brangman said. “It's the same old, same old — you've just got to prepare yourself for it.”
Mr Brangman, who has run the restaurant for seven years, said that the most crucial preparation was making sure his staff were on the same page.
He said he was not worried about the storm.
“I expect it to get quiet when the weather gets like this. Nobody's coming out. You might find a few tourists coming out, but there's not traffic.”
He anticipated Hurricane Idalia to be much more impactful.
“That's when the real deal comes — she's going to jump all over us.”
Aurelio Rodrigues, the owner of the Bermuda Cigar Company, said that he felt confident enough in the storm passing that he did almost nothing to prepare for it.
“It's not that big so I'm not worried,” he said. “The doors are strong enough that it should be fine.”
He added: “We never get damage here anyway during hurricanes.”
Mr Rodrigues admitted that business had been "very slow" in the wake of the hurricane, particularly as cruise ships cancelled.
But he added that he was confident things would bounce back.
“We've been here for years and we know each Labour Day weekend is like this.
“We're going to still have business — we still have a lot of cruise ships coming.
“I can tell that maybe 7 per cent are going to cancel because of the weather, but we'll still have growth.“
Arun Konaru, the manager of the Frog and Onion Pub, said that he and his staff took in outdoor furniture for safety, but ultimately felt safe.
He said that Franklin was far enough to not have a big impact on them.
But he admitted: “From a business perspective, we are way down.
“Otherwise, we have just taken all of our stuff from outside and waiting for the weekend. We're used to preparing for hurricane here — this is hurricane season after all.”
Mr Konaru said that cruise ships opting not to sail had left the restaurant reliant on the local crowd.
But with schools still out for summer, he said and families would come down to the pub.
Mr Konaru urged residents to stay safe.
He added: “All the people need are electricity and wi-fi, so, as a restaurant, if something goes out in people's homes, we are always open.”