Major Hurricane Nicole unleashes 120-mph winds in rare strike on Bermuda
By By Renee Duff, AccuWeather Meteorologist
October 17, 2016, 4:16:12 AM EDT
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Hurricane Nicole lashed Bermuda with destructive winds and torrential rain through Thursday afternoon, leaving thousands without power.
Nicole, currently a Category 1 hurricane, made a direct hit over Bermuda between 11 a.m. and noon local time as a Category 3 storm.
During Wednesday night, Nicole became a major hurricane and attained Category 4 status. This became the first time that two Category 4 hurricanes occurred in the Atlantic basin during October. Matthew was a Category 4 hurricane but also reached Category 5 status earlier this month in the Caribbean.
While Bermuda is often affected by hurricanes each year, major hurricanes rarely pass close to the islands. According to the National Hurricane Center, only seven major hurricanes have passed within 40 nautical miles of Bermuda since records began in 1851.
Bermuda's Minister of National Security, Sen. the Hon. Jeffrey C. Baron, JP, urged Bermudians not to be complacent with this storm, according to a ministerial statement on Tuesday.
Bermuda is home to about 65,000 people.
As the storm raced farther away from Bermuda, a clearer picture of the damage began to emerge. The Royal Gazette newspaper reports that while the impact is “less than feared,” Nicole caused roads to collapse, tore roofs off buildings and uprooted trees. Numerous buildings and roads have also flooded.
Baron told the Gazette that there are no reports of storm-related fatalities or major injuries thus far.
"As homeowners begin assessing the damage at their homes, we urge them to use utmost caution and ensure they are using all appropriate safety equipment to reduce the risk of injury," Baron said Thursday evening.
The northeastern quadrant, which is the most powerful and potentially most destructive part of the hurricane, affected Bermuda during Thursday morning.
A gust to 122 mph (196 km/h) occurred on a platform at Commissioner's Point, Bermuda, during Thursday morning.
Wind gusts near or exceeding 120 mph (193 km/h) can result in widespread power outages.
As of 3:44 p.m. local time Friday, Bermuda Electric Light Company reported that 4,651 customers still had no power and restorations were underway.
While weather conditions on the islands will improve into Friday, seas may remain rough, especially along the northern and western shores. Debris and downed utility lines will still pose hazards for those venturing out too early after the storm, until crews have had a chance to comb the area.
Bermuda's Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) said on Thursday evening that there are reports of many downed poles and power lines.
Government schools closed at noon on Wednesday, local time, and will remain closed through Friday, while government offices closed at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and will also remain closed through Friday.
"Out of an abundance of caution, the EMO is strongly advising residents/motorists to stay off the roads until the all clear has been given by the relevant emergency agencies," Baron said in the statement.
The Causeway, which connects the mainland and Bermuda International Airport on St. David's Island, was closed throughout the entire storm. Damage to walls along the Causeway was being assessed, according to the Royal Gazette.
Bermuda's government announced the Causeway reopened at 10 p.m. Thursday local time. It also said that an assessment of L.F. Wade International Airport is underway and it's anticipated to reopen Friday at 12 p.m.
Elsewhere, there are currently no imminent tropical threats in the Atlantic Basin.
Still, all interests in the Caribbean and along the U.S. Gulf and East coasts should continue to monitor the tropics over the coming weeks.
The Atlantic hurricane season does not officially end until Nov. 30.
AccuWeather Staff Writer Kevin Byrne contributed to this article.
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