Tropical Storm Leslie slowly moves past Bermuda

September 9, 2012 2:27:47 PM PDT
Tropical Storm Leslie's outer bands buffeted Bermuda with gusty winds and steady rain Sunday as it slowly edged past the wary British enclave on a path that was expected to take it to Canada's Newfoundland later in the week.

The government reopened the L.F. Wade International Airport in the early evening after keeping it closed for most of the day due to tropical storm winds. Major airlines already had canceled flights to the British Atlantic territory of about 65,000 inhabitants.

As Leslie gradually spun away from Bermuda into the northern Atlantic, the Bermuda Police Service said there were no reports of any major damage or injuries.

But scattered power outages affected hundreds of customers, and many roads were littered with tree branches and other debris. At least one street pole fell in central Hamilton.

Government officials were breathing a sigh of relief since earlier in the week Leslie had been forecast to be a Category 2 hurricane as it passed Bermuda, possibly as a direct strike.

Most residents of Bermuda, a financial haven and tourist destination about 600 miles (965 kilometers) off the U.S. East Coast, were taking the effects of the storm in stride. The territory has tough building codes and its people are used to strong storms.

"It's an excuse for a lazy day at home," said Natasha Hector, a resident of Bermuda's Southampton parish who is originally from Oxfordshire, England.

Tia Smith hunkered down at home Sunday in Hamilton parish with her husband, Tim; 5-year-old daughter, Willow; and 1-year-old son, Rowan. She said they dutifully prepared for a hurricane in recent days.

"Just a quiet day of movies and board games for us," she said.

Philippa Raven, who is visiting from London, said she was enjoying watching the storm from her friends' hilltop home.

"It's a good view and it's quite nice just watching it outside when you are cozy inside," said Raven, who arrived in Bermuda on Thursday.

Bermuda was forecast to get from two to four inches (five to 10 centimeters) of rain from Leslie.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had weakened slightly early Sunday, and it maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). Tropical storm winds extended up to 195 miles (315 kilometers) from its center. By late afternoon, it was about 175 miles (280 kilometers) east-northeast of Bermuda and moving north at 14 mph (22 kph).

U.S. forecasters said Leslie could regain hurricane strength Tuesday over open ocean as it was expected to approach Newfoundland.

As Leslie moves northward, swells kicked up by the storm will affect Bermuda, the U.S. East Coast, the Canadian Maritimes, the northern Leeward Islands and the U.S. Caribbean territories for the next couple of days.

Far out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael was a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of about 90 mph (150 kph), and was not considered any threat to land. For a few hours Thursday, it was the first Category 3 of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Michael was moving slowly toward the west at 5 mph (7 kph). It was expected to take a turn to the northwest and then north-northwest Monday. It was forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday.

Keep your family safe this hurricane season. Check our complete tropical weather preparation guide


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