Gonzalo, classified as a major hurricane and bearing down on Bermuda with tree-snapping winds, is forecast to bring flooding and a life-threatening storm surge as it’s projected to be the worst storm to hit the territory since Fabian in 2003.
Gonzalo was 240 miles (385 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda with winds reaching 130 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 storm on the five-step Saffir Simpson scale, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 a.m. New York time. After striking Bermuda, Gonzalo will continue moving north and east, never becoming a threat to the U.S. It’s set to graze Newfoundland and Canada this weekend.
The Bermuda Weather Service posted a hurricane warning for the independent British territory and its surrounding waters. Seas are forecast to rise to 35 to 40 feet (11 to 12 meters.) The eye of the storm will be near the island by this evening, the hurricane center said.
“Significant coastal flooding on Bermuda is likely if Gonzalo continues on the current NHC forecast track,” according to a forecast analysis by Robbie Berg, a hurricane specialist at the center in Miami.
Fabian, the last major hurricane to strike Bermuda, killed four people as a Category 3 system in 2003. It was considered to be the worst to hit the territory since 1926, according to the hurricane center. Storms at Category 3 and stronger are considered major hurricanes.
A 10-foot storm surge swept Bermuda’s coast when Fabian struck and Gonzalo may bring as much devastation, Berg wrote.
Tropical Storm Fay swept across Bermuda earlier this week, clogging roads with debris and knocking out power to about 27,000 homes. Bermuda has a population of 65,038, a 2010 census by the Department of Statistics and Registrar General showed.
While buildings on Bermuda are built to withstand the impact of hurricanes, the damage done when Fay passed Bermuda on Oct. 12 has the potential to multiply the effects of Gonzalo, said Jeff Masters, a co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
There may be debris that can be blown around by Gonzalo’s hurricane-force winds and Fay may have weakened infrastructure.
Gonzalo will probably bring “damaging winds and a life- threatening storm surge” later today, the NHC said. The storm is forecast to begin weakening today before dispelling at a faster rate by tonight, the weather service said.
–With assistance from Rachel Morison in London.
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