Bermuda braces as Category 4 Hurricane Gonzalo barrels toward it

People on the tiny British territory of Bermuda rushed Thursday to batten down for Hurricane Gonzalo, which was roaring toward them as a major Category 4 storm just days after a tropical storm damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines.

HAMILTON, Bermuda — People on the tiny British territory of Bermuda rushed Thursday to batten down for Hurricane Gonzalo, which was roaring toward them as a major Category 4 storm just days after a tropical storm damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines.

Gonzalo had top sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph) and was centred about 460 miles (740 kilometres) south-southwest of Bermuda. It was moving north at 7 mph (11 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Tropical storm conditions are expected late Thursday, and forecasters said Gonzalo’s centre will be near Bermuda Friday afternoon and evening. The Bermuda Weather Service said Gonzalo would likely pass within 29 miles (46 kilometres) of the island Friday night as a Category 3 storm, close enough to be considered a direct hit.

“This is a very serious event,” Dave Fox, a public affairs officer for the Bermuda government, said in a phone interview.

The last major hurricane to strike Bermuda was Fabian in 2003, a Category 3 storm that killed four people. The last major hurricane to cross land in the Atlantic Basin was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a Category 3 storm that hit Cuba.

Fox said the government opened a high school as a shelter, but that he expected most people to stay home.

“We build for hurricanes,” he said. “It’s part of the building code.”

Bermuda, which is 850 miles (1,400 kilometres) east of the U.S. state of South Carolina, has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world.

Kimberley Zuill, Bermuda Weather Service director, said at a press conference that the storm will affect the island for 27 hours.

“The path is similar to Fabian, the duration is similar to Fabian,” she said. “If your property was exposed and received damage during Fabian, you will want to prepare for that again.”

The capital of Hamilton appeared almost deserted by noon as stores boarded up windows. The businesses that remained open reported a steady stream of customers grabbing last minute essentials.

“Some people seem to have left it until the end to get things,” said Melissa Trott, 25, an employee at Phoenix Store. “We sold out of batteries, and our warehouse has none left.”

Gas stations also reported brisk business,.

“I was here for Hurricane Fabian in 2003, so I’m not taking any chances this time,” said Susan Black, 65, a retiree who was filling up her car and several gas cans. “I’ve been busy since 6:30 this morning getting things ready.”

Many were also moving boats to safer areas. While some can bring them out of the water, others relied on storm moorings and hoped for the best.

Forecasters said destructive waves could cause significant flooding on the island, which is about one-third the size of Washington, D.C. Some 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimetres) of rain was predicted. The Bermuda Weather Service said seas would reach 35 feet (11 metres) on Friday.

The Turks and Caicos Islands government announced Thursday that it would send a 436-foot (133-meter) frigate of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy to help with post-storm recovery efforts if needed.

Gonzalo was approaching Bermuda as people coped with the aftermath of Sunday’s Tropical Storm Fay. Hundreds of homes remained without power and homeowners worked to repair damaged roofs. The government called out 200 soldiers of the Bermuda Regiment to help with cleanup efforts on the island of roughly 70,000 people.

The government said it would close the island’s international airport Thursday night, with several airlines increasing the number of flights departing Bermuda ahead of the storm. Officials also closed all public schools by Thursday afternoon.

Gonzalo swept by the eastern Caribbean earlier this week, claiming one life in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten. 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.

Just Posted

Trump-Putin summit opens without talk of election meddling

HELSINKI — With a wink and a slouch, respectively, President Donald Trump… Continue reading

Ultra-light helicopter pilot killed in crash near High River

Police say the pilot of an ultra-light helicopter is dead after crashing… Continue reading

Heat warning in effect for Central Alberta

Environment Canada has issued a heat warning for Central Alberta. Residents in… Continue reading

Westerner Days parade set for Wednesday in downtown Red Deer

Over 30,000 people are expected to line up the streets of downtown… Continue reading

Storm rips through Central Alberta

Hail pelts region causing damage to farmland, plus communities in Ponoka, Bashaw and Stettler

CFIA inspects after video shows pigs crammed into B.C. transport truck

The video shows pigs piled on top of one another in a transport truck on a “sweltering” hot day last week

Croatia gears up to give heroes’ welcome to World Cup team

ZAGREB, Croatia — Fans are pouring in from throughout the country as… Continue reading

Statelessness a hurdle for some rescued Thai boy

MAE SAI, Thailand — The 12 boys and coach of the Wild… Continue reading

Lobbying commissioner rejects complaints against firearms panel member

OTTAWA — A federal watchdog has dismissed complaints that a mass-shooting survivor… Continue reading

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says the number of homes… Continue reading

Red Deer Royals place second at Calgary Stampede parade

Royals depicted life in forest and portrayed destruction by human beings

Muslim candidates running in record numbers face backlash

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A liberal woman of colour with zero name recognition… Continue reading

Former UK Cabinet secretary seeks new Brexit referendum

LONDON — A former U.K. Cabinet minister from the ruling Conservative Party… Continue reading

Man killed by Chicago police ran away, reached for waist

CHICAGO — A man killed by Chicago police had a gun in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month