“Leslie should be a good pounding for Bermuda, but if there’s any place along the Atlantic that can take a pounding, it’s Bermuda,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The hurricane may be far worse for Newfoundland, said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist at Planalytics.
Leslie developed Wednesday into a hurricane with top sustained winds of 75 mph. It was about 460 miles south-southeast of Bermuda as of 5 p.m. East Coast time. The center’s current track forecast predicts it will pass almost directly over Bermuda this weekend.
Computer models are wavering as to whether the system will pass to the east or west of the island, said Dan Kottlowski, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Penn. Conditions on Bermuda would be worst if the storm strikes from the west because in most cases a hurricane’s power is focused on its northeast side.
“The worst hurricanes that have hit Bermuda have always hit them from the southwest,” Kottlowski said.
The island usually weathers storms very well, he said. “They can take a walloping and be back in business in a couple of days.”
After Leslie passes over Bermuda, it’s expected to continue north to a potential landfall in Newfoundland, said Rouiller, based in Berwyn, Penn.
“The tracks are pretty well clustered into Newfoundland,” Rouiller said. “The eastern half of Newfoundland is under the gun for what could be a catastrophic storm event.”
A trough of low pressure along the East Coast will keep Leslie away from the United States, he said.
“This will serve to protect the Northeast from any near misses,” Rouiller said. “From Boston to Bar Harbor all they will have is high sea swells.”
The Fire and Emergency Services of Newfoundland and Labrador are monitoring Leslie’s track. “Officials with Environment Canada and the Canadian Hurricane Centre indicate there is significant uncertainty around this system, but we remain on the alert,” the agency said.
The track is reminiscent of the one taken by Hurricane Igor, which struck Newfoundland in September 2010. Winds of 105 mph were recorded and 90 cities and towns were isolated after 9.4 inches of rain fell, washing out roads.
The damage from the storm was so great, the name Igor was retired from the list of Atlantic hurricanes. Igor was blamed for three deaths, one in Newfoundland.
The storm prompted cities and towns on Newfoundland and Labrador to adopt emergency management plans, according to the Fire and Emergency Services statement.
North Atlantic Refining has a 115,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Come By Chance, Newfoundland, at the northern end of Placentia Bay about 90 miles west of the provincial capital of St. John’s.
The hurricane center is also tracking Tropical Storm Michael, which isn’t a threat to land, and a remnant of Hurricane Isaac that has reentered the Gulf of Mexico. The area of low pressure has a 40 percent chance of forming into a tropical system.
If it does, it will be renamed, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center in Miami.
Rouiller said he doesn’t believe much will come of the system, predicting it will probably get swept up into another weather pattern.
Kottlowski said there’s a lot of wind shear inhibiting the development of the system. If it does turn into a tropical storm or depression, it will probably land on Florida’s west coast and won’t get near energy platforms and rigs, he said.
— Bloomberg News