Bermuda braces for Gonzalo

2014-10-16 17:21
Hurricane Gonzalo, has sustained winds near 205km/h and is south south-west of Bermuda. (NOAA, AP)

Hurricane Gonzalo, has sustained winds near 205km/h and is south south-west of Bermuda. (NOAA, AP)

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Washington - Hurricane Gonzalo gained strength overnight into Thursday as it barreled in the Atlantic toward Bermuda, which was bracing for a hit from the powerful Category Four storm.

Gonzalo's winds were whirling at 220km/h, taking it back up a notch on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, The US National Hurricane Centre said.

It was expected to pass Friday near Bermuda, which could see flooding along the coast. A hurricane warning was in effect for the British overseas territory.

At 12:00 GMT, it was located about 844km south-southwest of the Bermudian archipelago. It was moving north at nine miles per hour, according to the Miami-based NHC.

"This general motion is expected to continue today," the NHC said.

"A turn toward the north-northeast and an increase in forward speed are expected tonight and Friday."

But the forecasters stressed that major hurricanes like Gonzalo tend to fluctuate in strength.

The storm could weaken later on Thursday and on Friday, but Gonzalo is on track to be a "dangerous hurricane" when it moves near Bermuda, the NHC said.

The NHC noted that elevated and hilly terrain could face especially strong winds, since wind speeds atop and on the windward sides can often be up to 30% stronger than at the surface.

"A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding in Bermuda," the NHC said.

"Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves."

Up to 150mm of rain were expected over Bermuda.

Seventh storm of the season

Large swells triggered by Gonzalo were already affecting parts of the Virgin Islands, the northern coast of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as well as portions of the Bahamas.

Swells were expected to reach much of the US East Coast and Bermuda later Thursday.

"These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions," the NHC said.

Three people were reported missing in the islands of St Martin and St Barthelemy after the storm passed, and French authorities expressed concern about four other people they were trying to contact.

The storm caused property damage on both islands, which were battered by strong winds and heavy rains.

Gonzalo is the seventh storm of the Atlantic season - which stretches from June to November - and the third hurricane to slam the Caribbean this year.

Hurricane Cristobal left at least four people dead in late August when it trashed the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Dominican Republic with heavy rains causing serious flooding.

The NHC predicted that storm activity will be lower than average this year.

Read more on:    bermuda  |  weather  |  hurricanes

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