HAMILTON, Bermuda, Thursday, September 6, 2012 – Residents of Bermuda are battening down the hatches as Tropical Storm Leslie became a hurricane yesterday (September 5) and remains on course for a direct hit on the archipelago over the weekend.
The Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) has advised that the latest forecast track for Hurricane Leslie brings it within 20 to 40 miles of the island early Sunday morning as potentially a Category 2 hurricane with wind speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour and Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief has urged his people to take no chances.
“I urge all Bermuda residents to prepare for the worst” Perinchief said yesterday (Wednesday) following a meeting of the Emergency Measures Organisation (EMO) convened to prepare for Hurricane Leslie.
He added that plans were in place and all emergency services were ready for the impact of Leslie.
Leslie’s closest point of approach to Bermuda within 72 hours (3 days) is forecast to be 146 nautical miles to the South at 6 pm on Saturday (September 8). However, the forecast track beyond 72 hours indicates the island can expect almost a direct hit, warned the EMO.
Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the island by late Saturday and severe hurricane force conditions to reach the island by Sunday morning. Leslie is already bringing deadly surf and rip currents to all the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Meanwhile, to the east of Leslie, tropical depression 13 became Tropical Storm Michael on Tuesday (September 4) and quickly escalated to become the seventh hurricane of the Atlantic season yesterday. Michael was the second hurricane to form in the Atlantic on Wednesday, following the formation of Hurricane Leslie.
The United States National Hurricane Center in Miami said that by last night Michael was located about 1,060 miles (1,705 kms) southwest of the Azores. The hurricane is carrying winds of 75 mph (120 kms) and moving northeast at 7 mph (11 kph).
The storm was forecast to turn toward the northwest and move more slowly over the next two days.