Hurricane Nicole has struck the North Atlantic island of Bermuda, causing widespread damage to homes and businesses.
“Nicole caused roads to collapse, tore roofs off buildings and uprooted trees … Numerous buildings and roads have also flooded,” according to Friday media reports.
The powerful hurricane hit Bermuda between 11:00 and noon local time (1500 GMT Thursday) as a Category 3 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson storm intensity scale, packing winds of up to 195 kilometers per hour and lashing the island for hours with torrential rain.
In the village of Flatts, just outside Bermuda’s capital city of Hamilton, towering palm trees were bent over virtually at 90-degree angles in the howling winds, and boats moored at a nearby inlet rocked in the heavy waves.
Government officials, however, said the damage was less than anticipated, adding that there were no reports of severe injuries or fatalities on the tiny Atlantic island chain, which is home to about 65,000 people.
“For a storm this size, I’d say we’re blessed,” said Bermuda Premier Michael Dunkley. “I don’t think any part of the island was spared the wrath of Nicole. But ... it could have been much worse.”
According to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Nicole has been the strongest hurricane to sweep the subtropical British territory in more than a decade.
While Bermuda is often affected by hurricanes each year, major ones rarely pass close to the islands. According to the National Hurricane Center, only seven major hurricanes have passed within 40 nautical miles of Bermuda since records began in 1851.
The British Overseas Territory is a tourist destination and an insurance industry hub, located about 1,030 km off the US coast of North Carolina.