Hurricane Florence churns past Bermuda; thousands without power

Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hurricane Florence headed toward north Atlantic shipping lanes after blowing out windows, peeling away roofs and knocking out power to thousands in Bermuda.

As the whirling eye of the storm traveled away from the wealthy British island chain, the lashing wind and sea-water surge tapered off. Authorities reported few minor injuries and no deaths. Officials at the Bermuda Zoo said two pink flamingos were killed by broken tree branches.

The storm generated waves up to 17 feet off the off parts of the eastern U.S. coast, about 640 miles west of Bermuda, said Hugh Cobb, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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“We are expecting (Florence) to begin accelerating north and northeast over the north Atlantic shipping lanes, and there should be some impact to the Canadian Maritimes,” Cobb said.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to weaken further as it passes over cooler waters, moving close to or over Newfoundland later in the week before swerving into the North Atlantic.

It was expected to remain a large, powerful cyclone for several more days.

The runway of Bermuda’s international airport was expected to resume service Tuesday along with ferry and bus service. A causeway linking the main island with St. George’s parish was reopened on Monday.

Early Tuesday, the Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained wind near 75 mph was about 365 miles north-northeast of Bermuda, according to storm trackers. It was traveling northeast at 20 mph.

At least 18,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday evening, according to Bermuda’s electric company. Crews with the territory’s utility were trying to fix damaged lines across the archipelago.

Some people were unfazed by the latest storm to hit Bermuda, which enforces strict building codes to withstand rough weather.

“Everything is normal,” said Rowena Smith, an employee at The Reefs, a cliffside resort on the vulnerable south shore. More than 80 guests stayed to ride out the storm at the hotel.

“They’re in high spirits. We have a lot of repeaters in house, and they’re having fun,” Smith said.

Tropical Storm Gordon formed in the Atlantic northeast of the Leeward Islands and was expected to head in the general direction of Bermuda, forecasters said.

Gordon, the seventh named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, had top sustained wind near 60 mph and was centered about 445 miles north-northeast of the Leeward Islands. It was moving northwest at about 8 mph and was expected to become a hurricane within the next day or so, forecasters said. It looked likely to pass to the east of Bermuda.

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