Hurricane Nicole has made landfall in Bermuda, lashing the tiny island territory with fierce winds, torrential rain and a storm surge. Authorities described the Category 3 storm as 'extremely dangerous.'
Hurricane Nicole was packing winds of 195 kilometers (120 miles) per hour as it pummeled the British territory of Bermuda on Thursday, tearing roofs off buildings and flooding homes.
"This is a serious storm, and it's living up to the weather predictions," National Security Minister Jeff Baron said, as the eye of the hurricane passed over the archipelago. "The worst is not over."
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that a dangerous storm surge would generate "large and destructive" waves, raising water levels by as much two to 2.5 meters (six to eight feet). Around 20,000 homes were without power.
Wind picks up on Ordnance Island in St.Georges, Bermuda, as Hurricane Nicole passes over the archipelago
Nicole was downgraded to a Category 3 storm overnight, but forecasters warned it was still "extremely dangerous."
"While hurricanes often affect Bermuda, a hurricane this strong is rare," the NHC said in a statement.
Authorities closed schools and government offices on Wednesday ahead of Nicole's arrival. Buildings were boarded up, while a number of airlines and cruise ships announced plans to cancel services to the islands.
The NHC said the powerful storm was traveling in a northeasterly direction and was expected to move away from Bermuda later on Thursday. Government officials urged locals to stay indoors until they were given the all clear.
"I'm comfortable with the resources we have in hand to deal with this storm," Premier Michael Dunkley said. "I have every faith that the people of Bermuda will rally together after the storm."
Last week, Hurricane Matthew caused massive devastation in Haiti and other Caribbean countries before sweeping up the US southeast coast.
nm/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP)