Bermuda Dodges Florence With No Injuries

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 12, 2006; 11:32 AM

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Thousands of Bermudians were still without power Tuesday in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which knocked down utility poles and damaged roofs but caused far less damage than feared.

The storm, which caused no major injuries, damaged about 10 homes and garages in the wealthy British island territory before it headed north over the open Atlantic Ocean, said Deputy Governor Nick Carter. A few people were hurt by broken glass but none required hospitalization, he said.

"It's too early to estimate insured losses on the storm but I would guess it's pretty light," Carter said. "The major issue was the downing of the power cables."

At one point during the storm, the power was out to more than half the small island chain, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and enforces strict building codes to ensure that homes can withstand intense weather.

The government, which discontinued its tropical storm warning late Monday, planned to reopen the territory's airport Tuesday and to resume bus and ferry service.

Strong winds, rains and white-capped waves started hammering the island Sunday, when Bermuda, home to about 60,000, began to feel the effects of Florence, the second hurricane of the Atlantic season.

The storm also 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.

After Florence moved away from Bermuda Monday night, it headed toward Atlantic shipping lanes and was expected to weaken further as it passes over cooler waters. If Florence stays on its forecast track, it would pass just southeast of Newfoundland in the next day or so, the hurricane center said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Florence had top sustained winds of 75 mph and was centered about 715 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland, the hurricane center said. The hurricane was moving northeast at 23 mph.

Meanwhile, 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. The seventh named storm of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season, Gordon was much smaller in size than Florence and was expected to remain over open water away from Bermuda, forecasters said.

"At this point it looks like it will recurve out into the Atlantic," said Jamie Rhome, a hurricane specialist at the center in Miami. "However, people should be reminded that we are at the peak of hurricane season and they should be updated on hurricane supplies and have a hurricane plan."

Gordon had top sustained winds of about 60 mph. It could become a hurricane, with sustained winds of 74 mph or stronger, as early as Wednesday, the hurricane center said.

At 11 a.m. EDT, Gordon was centered about 490 miles north-northeast of the Leeward Islands and moving northwest near 9 mph, forecasters said. A gradual turn to the north was expected.

The eighth tropical depression of the Atlantic season also developed Tuesday from showers and thunderstorms that moved off the coast of West Africa. The depression had 30 mph sustained winds and was centered 185 miles south-southeast of the southernmost Cape Verde islands.

The depression was moving toward the west near 18 mph, and it could become a named tropical storm Tuesday or Wednesday, the hurricane center said. Helene is the next name on the list.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.


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