Hurricane Nicole could become a Major Hurricane before it makes a direct impact to the island of Bermuda, battering it with high storm surge, rough seas, damaging winds, and heavy rains. With the hurricane forecast to strike tomorrow, Bermuda put themselves under a Hurricane Warning. A Hurricane Warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion; time is running out.
As of the 8am advisory today from the National Hurricane Center, the large and distinct eye of Hurricane Nicole was located near latitude 28.0 North, longitude 66.9 West. Nicole is moving toward the north-northwest near 5 mph, but a turn toward the north with an increase in forward speed is expected later today. An additional increase in forward speed with a turn toward the north-northeast is forecast on Thursday. On the forecast track, the core of Hurricane Nicole will near Bermuda on Thursday. Maximum sustained are near 100 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is possible during the next 36 hours and Nicole could be near major hurricane strength later today. Hurricane Nicole is currently a Category 2 Hurricane but could reach Category 3 strength before striking Bermuda.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 30 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles. The latest minimum central pressure measured by an Air Force Reservereconnaissance aircraft is 969 mb (28.61 inches).
Threats of wind, storm surge, and surf will all impact Bermuda soon. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin on Bermuda Thursday morning, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin tonight. A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce coastal flooding in Bermuda. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. Nicole is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over Bermuda through Thursday; flooding is likely from these heavy rains.
The last significant hurricane to impact Bermuda head-on was Category 2 Hurricane Gonzalo in October of 2014. That storm made landfall on the southwestern coast and brought roughly 12 hours of hurricane-force winds to the island. In Gonzalo, winds peaked at 144mph at St. David’s Island, producing extensive roof and structural damage. At the height of the storm, about 31,000 out of 36,000 electricity customers are without power. While the damage toll came in at approximately $400million, there were no deaths or major injuries.
No direct impacts are expected to the US east coast from this storm, although rough surf and rip tides are likely to linger for several days from a very rough Atlantic. In Wallops Island, Virginia, a rocket launch scheduled to deliver supplies to the International Space Station has been delayed; the mission’s tracking station is located on Bermuda.