Residents and holidaymakers in Bermuda are battening down the hatches as Hurricane Gonzalo churns towards them as a major Category 3 storm.
A hurricane warning is in effect for the British territory and forecasters said a dangerous storm surge accompanied by large, destructive waves could cause significant flooding on the island, which has 64 miles of shoreline. About 3in to 6in of rain is predicted.
Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, said it was too early to tell whether the hurricane would hit Bermuda tomorrow, but he warned residents to be prepared for severe weather.
“The eye of the hurricane does not have to go over Bermuda for them to experience severe conditions,” he said.
Gonzalo had top sustained winds of 125mph late yesterday and was centred more than 500 miles south-southwest of Bermuda. It was moving north at 9mph, the hurricane centre said.
Gonzalo grew into a powerful Category 4 storm at one point yesterday, but weakened later in the day.
The Bermuda government is preparing to close the island’s international airport, and several airlines have increased the number of flights departing ahead of the storm.
Bermuda’s residents were already coping with the aftermath of Sunday’s Tropical Storm Fay.
More than 1,000 homes remained without power and homeowners worked to repair damaged roofs.
The government called out 200 soldiers of the Bermuda Regiment to help with clean-up efforts on the island of roughly 70,000 people.
Max Atherden, a resident in Riddell’s Bay where power had not come back on since Sunday, said Gonzalo would make little difference for him: “I’m still without power, and soon everyone else will be too.”
People stripped the island’s hardware stores of generators, batteries, candles and other items and picked up free tarpaulin distributed by the government. Supermarkets and petrol stations braced for more crowds.
Bermuda has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world and its strict building codes make structures particularly capable of withstanding storms.
Gonzalo swept by the eastern Caribbean earlier this week, claiming at least one life in the Dutch territory of St Maarten. Two people were missing, one in the French Caribbean territory of St Martin and the other in St Barts.
Large ocean swells continued to affect parts of the Virgin Islands, the northern coasts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and parts of the Bahamas.