Hurricane Ophelia Sweeps Past Bermuda, Heads North

October 3, 2011

Hurricane Ophelia swirled to the east of Bermuda Saturday, whipping up showers, thunderstorms and surf on the British overseas territory as it raced northwards over the Atlantic, forecasters said.

Ophelia, the third major hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, was passing more than 100 miles east of the rocky island, which is a global reinsurance center.

A tropical storm watch was in effect, but Bermuda’s 70,000 residents are well used to Atlantic storms.

At 5 p.m. EDT, Ophelia was located about 140 miles east south east of Bermuda, moving northwards and carrying maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Officials at Bermuda’s international airport said some incoming flights from Miami, New York and Atlanta had been cancelled, but a flight from Britain was still expected.

“We’re not expecting a big impact (from Ophelia),” one airport employee said.

The Bermuda Weather Service said the territory was experiencing squally showers and thunderstorms and there was a potential for sustained tropical storm-force winds on the eastern coast as the hurricane passed.

“We have had rough surf due to Ophelia all day today and that is not expected to ease until after midnight local time,” weather service meteorologist Michelle T. Pitcher said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

The Miami-based NHC said Ophelia would approach the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland in Canada Monday and Canadian authorities had issued a tropical storm watch for that area.

The hurricane was likely to start weakening Sunday as it passed over cooler waters, the NHC said.

Meanwhile, in the mid-Atlantic, more than 1,000 miles to the southeast, Tropical Storm Philippe chugged northwestwards but posed no risk to land. Forecasters expect it to swing north next week on a predicted track that will keep it away from the U.S. east coast.

(Writing by Pascal Fletcher, editing by Eric Beech)

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