Bermuda braces for direct hit by Hurricane Nicole

A major cyclone is expected to bring life-threatening conditions to the island

Bermuda is an isolated island, lying in the western Atlantic. It is approximately 1,000km east of Cape Hatteras on the coast of North Carolina.

This British Overseas Territory, home to 64,000 permanent residents, is rarely affected by hurricanes, let alone major ones such as Nicole. On average the island sees a hurricane every six to seven years.

Although the waters surrounding the island are relatively warm, they are seldom high enough to support the energy required to feed a cyclone such as Nicole.

This is especially the case in the month of October, when sea surface temperatures drop to 26C. This is at least two degrees Celsius below what is usually required to sustain a hurricane.

Unfortunately for the residents of Bermuda, the water over which Nicole is currently sitting is around two degrees above average, at 28 to 29C. This is sufficient for Nicole to maintain its current category 4 status on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale.

Nicole is a strange beast. It has been drifting around the eastern Atlantic since October 4. For much of its life it has been overshadowed by the much larger and more powerful Hurricane Matthew.

Having two such hurricanes in the eastern Atlantic is highly unusual. You have to go back to September 1964 to find two hurricanes occurring simultaneously in this part of the Atlantic.

Nicole looks set to take a track right across Bermuda. It may weaken slightly from Category 4 to between Category 2 or 3, but severe damage is likely to occur, with peak winds expected to occur between 11:00 and 18:00 GMT.

The island’s international airport is forecasting peak winds of 140km/h with gusts of 175km/h, the equivalent of a Category 1 storm, but island-wide, winds are likely to be stronger.

Nicole is expected to drop between 100 and 200mm of rain and a storm surge of up to two metres will result in coastal flooding.

Fortunately, Bermuda has always been well organised when it comes to preparing for hurricanes. The only deaths occurred back in 2003 when Hurricane Fabien claimed the lives of four people. Fabien was also the costliest hurricane in the island’s history, with total damage of $300m.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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