(Corrects date in the sixth paragraph.)
Hurricane Igor made its way toward Bermuda with the island nation expected to take a “direct hit” from the weather system, the National Hurricane Center said.
Igor, a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, is expected by forecasters to pass within 11.5 miles (18.5 kilometers) of the island later today.
“We have all heard the reports from the Bermuda Weather Service that this storm will be a long and punishing one and the potential for injury and physical damage is great,” said David Burch, Bermuda’s minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing, in a statement.
Five hurricanes with Category 3 winds of 111 mph have formed in the Atlantic this year, part of a total of 11 named storms with winds of 39 mph or more. The average Atlantic season produces 11 named storms from June 1 through Nov. 30, two of them major hurricanes, according to Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the hurricane center.
Bermuda issued a hurricane warning for Igor, which has sustained winds of 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour and is about 235 miles south of the island, the U.S. center said in an advisory. The system was moving at 12 mph, headed north- northwest. Igor is expected to be a dangerous hurricane as it moves near or over Bermuda, the center said.
While Igor weakened from a more powerful Category 3 storm Sept. 17, the hurricane center said it may regain some of its lost power on the way to Bermuda.
“This storm is one that should be taken extremely seriously,” Mark Guishard, director of Bermuda’s weather service, said in a statement. “Make no mistake, even if the center of this system misses the island, we will experience significant impacts.”
Bermuda’s weather service has compared Igor to Hurricane Fabian, which hit the island in 2003 with winds of 120 mph, killing eight people and causing $300 million in damage.
“So, not only is Igor of similar intensity to Fabian, it is actually bigger, making us an even more likely target,” Guishard said. “The current forecast is indeed for a direct hit on the island, the worst scenario in these situations.”
He said the island must prepare for sustained winds of 115 mph with gusts of 140 mph and storm surge 5 feet to 7 feet above normal tide levels.
Sustained winds of that speed will snap or uproot trees, tear roofs off buildings, blow out windows and cause power outages lasting days to weeks, according to the hurricane center.
East of Igor, Julia, now a tropical storm, weakened further, the hurricane center said. The system was 1,420 miles west of the Azores, heading north at 16 mph, with maximum sustained winds at 50 mph, the center said in a separate advisory today.
Weather system Karl, which had been the strongest storm ever to form in the Gulf of Mexico’s Bay of Campeche, according to Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was downgraded to a tropical depression earlier yesterday. It has since dissipated over the mountains of southern Mexico, the hurricane center said.
Karl had prompted Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, to close 14 offshore wells, the company said in an e-mailed statement. It also forced Mexico to suspend operations at its Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in eastern Veracruz state, the national electricity commission said.
The storm sparked a landslide in Nexticapan, killing two people and forced the Mexican Navy to send helicopters to rescue about 40 families trapped on a hill surrounded by flooding in San Pancho, north of Veracruz, the Associated Press reported. Veracruz sustained damage to beachfront huts, billboards and downed power lines as Karl swept inland.