Hurricane Rafael approaching Bermuda. NHC/NOAA satellite image
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA -- Hurricane Rafael was forecast to reach its closest point of approach to Bermuda at 8 pm on Tuesday evening, with the centre passing just over 115 miles to the east-southeast of the island. However, tropical storm force winds extend nearly 200 miles from the centre. A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Bermuda.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Tuesday, the centre of Hurricane Rafael was located about 130 miles south-southeast of Bermuda, moving toward the north-northeast near 26 mph. A turn toward the northeast and an increase in forward speed are expected on Wednesday.
Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph, with higher gusts. Rafael is a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Slow weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Rafael could lose tropical characteristics late Wednesday or early Thursday.
Rafael is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches across Bermuda, with tropical-storm-force winds expected in Bermuda by Tuesday afternoon or evening. Swells generated by Rafael are expected to affect Bermuda and the eastern-facing beaches of The Bahamas and portions of the United States east coast during the next couple of days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents.
Bermuda's Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) advised residents to be cautious and consider remaining indoors during peak winds expected late Tuesday afternoon through evening. Elevated and exposed areas, especially those on the eastern end of the island could experience winds of 40 knots, gusting to 65 knots mainly when heavier showers/thunderstorms pass over the area during this time.
Tides, which are already higher than usual due to the spring tides, will become high around 10pm on Tuesday night. Areas that are prone to flooding in spring tide events will be affected during this time, especially with heavier rainfall as shown on Bermuda Weather Service radar.
As of 12 noon on Tuesday, the following flight cancellations have been confirmed:
• British Airways to/from London Gatwick
• United Airlines to/from Newark
• US Airways to/from Philadelphia
• Westjet to/from Toronto
The two evening American Airlines flight arrivals have been rescheduled for Wednesday morning. American Airlines flight 308 from Miami will arrive on Wednesday at 9:35am and depart at 10.32am. American Airlines flight 1416 from NY JFK will arrive on Wednesday at 10:15am and depart at 11:00am.
Delta Airlines flight 561 from Boston returned to Boston due to a mechanical issue.
All other flights are operating as normal.