Rafael, 9th Hurricane, Bypasses Bermuda; Tropical Storm Paul Weakens

October 17, 2012

Rafael became the season’s ninth hurricane on Monday after tracking through the Leeward Islands. The storm then bypassed Bermuda late Tuesday evening. As of the National Hurricane Center’s Wednesday, 5:00 AM EDT advisory, the storm remains a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.

Rafael is currently located northeast of Bermuda and is moving to the north-northeast at 33 mph.

According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, the storm’s center passed 110 miles east of Bermuda, buffeting the island with tropical storm-force winds, which extended 200 miles outward.

“That radius has increased and currently tropical storm-force winds extend up to 275 miles outward while hurricane-force winds extend up to 70 miles outward,” said Scott Stransky, senior scientist at AIR Worldwide, which has been tracking the storm.

Sustained winds at the storm’s center were reported by Hurricane Hunter flights to be as high as 90 mph and were slightly lower at 85 mph when the storm bypassed Bermuda, AIR said. Rainfall of 1.65 inches has been reported.

The storm is expected to turn toward the northeast later today and then east-northeast on Thursday.

According to AIR, the building stock in Bermuda is well-designed for wind resistance and can easily withstand the winds from Hurricane Rafael. Residential buildings are primarily of masonry block construction, with limestone tile roofs. Commercial buildings are mainly of reinforced concrete. Wood-frame structures, which are more vulnerable to wind damage, are not common on the island. Most buildings in Bermuda have colonial shutters on the windows, which provide additional protection from high winds.

Stransky said Rafael is expected to remain a powerful storm over the next few days, but will remain well off the northeastern coast of the U.S. and Canada.

“The most likely forecast track shows Rafael shifting to the northeast later today and then back to the east-northeast direction. The storm is expected to maintain strong winds of 69 mph with gusts up to 86 mph over the next few days,” he said,

The storm may continue to produce dangerous swells and rip currents along the Bermuda coast and parts of the eastern U.S. coast.

According to AIR, the center of Tropical Storm Paul remains close to the coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. As of Tuesday morning, Paul’s maximum winds had weakened to 40 mph. The storm is expected to brush the coast later today as a tropical depression.

Source: AIR Worldwide

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