Bermuda Braces for Downgraded Tropical Storm Leslie
By Brian Major
September 08, 2012 5:01 PM
Tropical storm Leslie remained stalled about 415 miles southeast of Bermuda late Friday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported. The storm maintained maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and could regain hurricane status, according to the NHC. Leslie’s closest point of approach to Bermuda within 72 hours is forecast to be 174 nautical miles to the east-southeast at 4 p.m. on Sept. 9, according to Bermuda's Emergency Measures Organization (BEMO).
“It appears that Bermuda will be spared a direct impact from a hurricane as the forecast is for Leslie to pass by more than 150 miles to our east,” said Wayne Perinchief, minister of national security. “However, I urge the public to remain cautious as there is the potential for the storm to re-intensify.”
Bermuda’s causeway, which connects the main portion of Bermuda with St. David's Island, where its international airport is located, will remain open until sustained winds exceed 50 knots, which BEMO expected to occur by late Saturday afternoon. “A decision will be made when to close the Causeway in the coming days and notice will be sent in advance of the closure,” according to the statement. “The Causeway may remain closed for an extended period of time due to the expected duration of hurricane-force winds.”
Leslie has already generated heavy swells and dangerous currents in coastal areas of Bermuda, the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the U.S. East Coast from Florida to New York, according to NHC. Bermuda’s Department of Airport Operations is expected to announce on Saturday when the airport will close. Travelers scheduled to travel to or from Bermuda on Saturday, Sunday or Monday should check with their airlines.
American Airlines will waive the ticket reissue charge for one ticket change for travelers booked to fly the airline to or from Bermuda between Sept. 7 and 11. Tickets issued no later Sept. 5 can be re-scheduled to travel from Sept. 6 to 8 or Sept. 10 to 12. JetBlue will waive change/cancel fees and fare differences for customers traveling to or from Bermuda from Sept. 8 to 10.
Bermuda is among the most well-prepared tropical storm locations, according to a Department of Tourism spokesman, as the island’s building codes are among the world’s most stringent. Bermuda homes are required to be built with walls at least eight inches thick that can withstand 150 mph gusts and sustained winds of 110 mph. Additionally, many power and phone lines are underground.