Satellite image of Hurricane Nicole as it approached Bermuda on Wednesday. NOAA image
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA -- Bermuda battened down on Wednesday in preparation for the imminent approach of Hurricane Nicole, which was expected to hit the island directly on Thursday morning.
Government schools closed on Wednesday at noon and will remain closed on Thursday and Friday. Government offices also closed early at 3.00 pm and will remain closed on Thursday.
At some point, the police will be implementing a red alert, which means no vehicles on the road. The hospital will be on lockdown from 8pm Wednesday until Friday morning.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, at 5:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, the large eye of Hurricane Nicole was located about 240 miles (385 km) south-southwest of Bermuda, moving toward the north near 10 mph (17 km/h).
A turn toward the north-northeast and an increase in forward speed were expected on Wednesday night. A northeast turn with an additional increase in forward speed is forecast on Thursday. On the forecast track, the core of Hurricane Nicole will pass near or over Bermuda on Thursday.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 110 mph (175 km/h) with higher gusts. Some slight strengthening is possible on Wednesday night or early Thursday, and Nicole is forecast to be at or near major hurricane strength when it approaches Bermuda. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 160 miles (260 km).
Hurricane conditions are expected to begin on Bermuda on Thursday morning, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin on Wednesday evening.
A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 8 feet above normal tide levels in Bermuda. The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
Nicole is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over Bermuda through Thursday.
Swells associated with Nicole will affect Bermuda during the next few days. These swells will create dangerous surf conditions and rip currents.
Isolated tornadoes are possible on Bermuda on Wednesday night and early Thursday.