Bermuda on alert as Hurricane Leslie approaches

September 7th, 2012 - 8:23 pm ICT by Aishwarya Bhatt  

MIAMI, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — Hurricane Leslie continued moving in a northward direction on early Friday morning, slowly approaching the British overseas territory of Bermuda where residents have stocked up on supplies and tourists have canceled their vacations.

As of 5 a.m. AST (0900 GMT), the center of Leslie was located about 415 miles (670 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda, which is popular with tourists and has a population of nearly 65,000. The storm had moved at a speed of about 1 mile (2 kilometers) per hour on early Friday, but it later stalled.

Maximum sustained winds of Leslie remained near 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, barely meeting the 74 miles (120 kilometers) per hour mark to be considered a category one hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity. Some strengthening is expected, but significant changes are unlikely.

“Satellite winds and analyses from UW-CIMSS suggest that some light to moderate west-southwesterly shear is impacting the cyclone,” said Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). “The shear along with the disorganized state of the inner core and cooling sea surface temperatures due to upwelling should result in little change in intensity during the next 24 hours.”

Brennan said some strengthening is likely to occur on Saturday when Leslie moves northward toward warmer waters as the shear diminishes. There is a small chance the storm could reach category two status during the strengthening period, but Leslie is more likely to remain a category one hurricane until weakening kicks in early next week.

The Bermuda Weather Service earlier issued a tropical storm watch for Leslie, but the hurricane is not expected to make landfall there. “The wind field of Leslie, combined with its expected slow motion, will generate long-period swells that will produce large waves and life-threatening rip currents on Bermuda and along much of the U.S. East Coast through the weekend,” Brennan said.

Residents continued to stock up on supplies Friday as the hurricane approaches, although not all residents were concerned due to strict building codes on the islands. South shore beaches have been closed as a precaution, and travel agencies reported that a number of tourists have canceled their planned trips.

Leslie is the twelfth tropical cyclone of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began on June 1. It was followed by Michael which remains active as a category two hurricane, located some 920 miles (1,485 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores with no immediate threat to land.

According to a forecast released in August, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is expecting a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic this year. The outlook calls for twelve to seventeen named storms, with five to eight becoming hurricanes and two to three of them expected to become a major hurricane (category 3 or higher).

Based on the period from 1981 to 2010, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces twelve named storms, with six becoming hurricanes and three becoming major hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with peak activity between August and October.

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