Hurricane Nicole pummels Bermuda with wind, then spins away

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Hurricane Nicole roared across Bermuda on Thursday, pummeling the resort island with winds up to 115 mph that snapped trees and peeled off roofs before the storm spun away into open water.

Wind brought by Hurricane Nicole makes water break over the dock on Ordnance Island in St. Georges, Bermuda, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. The hurricane had strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday but lost some steam overnight. However, forecasters warned that it was still extremely dangerous. (AP Photo/Mark Tatem)
Wind brought by Hurricane Nicole makes water break over the dock on Ordnance Island in St. Georges, Bermuda, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. The hurricane had strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday but lost some steam overnight. However, forecasters warned that it was still extremely dangerous. (AP Photo/Mark Tatem)

The Category 3 system also flooded homes, damaged boats that broke away from their moorings and knocked out power to more than 27,000 customers who live in the British territory, which has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to heavy weather.

By late Thursday afternoon, crews were clearing roads, and many islanders were posting pictures of calmer seas and clearer skies.

“Nicole is now racing away,” said James Dodgson, deputy director at the Bermuda Weather Service. “There’s been a bit of sunshine trying to poke through.” Forecasters expected to cancel a tropical storm warning later in the evening.

Hours earlier, Bermuda’s 65,000 people got a brief respite from the storm’s fury when the eye of the hurricane passed overhead. Authorities urged everyone to stay inside.

After the eye moved away, the wind grew strong enough to fling open a hatch on the weather service’s radar, rendering it useless until the hatch could be shut, forecasters said.

Nick West, who lives with his family near a wharf in the town of St. George, said a large portion of his roof was ripped off just before the eye passed. His garden is now underwater.

“Just as long as we are all safe, that is all I really care about,” he said.

Heavy rain and increasing winds rock boats moored in Mullet Bay in St. Georges, Bermuda, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 as the island begins to feel the effects of Hurricane Nicole. The hurricane had strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday but lost some steam overnight. However, forecasters warned that it was still extremely dangerous. (AP Photo/Mark Tatem)
Heavy rain and increasing winds rock boats moored in Mullet Bay in St. Georges, Bermuda, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 as the island begins to feel the effects of Hurricane Nicole. The hurricane had strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday but lost some steam overnight. However, forecasters warned that it was still extremely dangerous. (AP Photo/Mark Tatem)

In Nicole’s aftermath, government officials inspected bridges and other structures. The Royal Bermuda Regiment removed uprooted trees and other debris from roads.

Cleanup efforts were expected to continue until early Friday, and the island’s airport planned to reopen by then. Schools were scheduled to stay closed until Monday.

The hurricane weakened to a Category 2 storm as it churned toward the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph). The system was moving northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).

After strengthening to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday, the hurricane lost steam overnight.

Although severe storms often affect Bermuda, “a hurricane this strong is rare,” the National Hurricane Center said.

As Nicole howled outside, some 120 guests were ushered for safety into a ballroom at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, one of the island’s largest hotels. They were served a free lunch as they waited for the storm to blow through.

American Airlines, Air Canada and other carriers canceled flights to the island. Several cruise ships also called off trips.

___

Associated Press Writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.