17 October 2016News

Nicole impact confirmed to be the worst since Fabian in 2003

Hurricane Nicole is the strongest storm to hit Bermuda since Hurricane Fabian in 2003, catastrophe modeling firm, AIR Worldwide, reports.

With a Category 4 status, Nicole took aim at Bermuda but went down to a Category 3 storm when it tracked close enough to the island to be termed a direct hit, late on Thursday (October 13) morning.

Leading up to its approach, Nicole’s eye was much discussed in terms of its size and position. Fifty miles in diameter at one point, it was 40 miles in diameter when it moved over Bermuda, which is only 15 miles wide, AIR Worldwide said.

“A last minute jog to the east by Nicole may have spared Bermuda the worst part of the storm, i.e., the eastern half where the hurricane’s winds were strongest. But the northern and western eyewalls still provided very strong winds, topping 100 miles per hour (mph) in some locations,” said Scott Stransky, assistant vice president and principal scientist at AIR Worldwide.

“The LF Wade International Airport, on the east end of the island, measured sustained wind speeds of 77 mph and peak gusts of 104 mph yesterday (Thursday) around 10am. In addition, storm surge could have been much worse if Nicole had arrived during high tide.

“As it happened, the tide was going out when Nicole passed closest to the island, around 11 a.m., and low tide was at 12:48 p.m. Bermuda would have experienced roughly an extra two feet of inundation if the storm had made its closest pass during high tide.”

Nicole still caused significant damage; about 91 percent of the island’s electricity customers were without power, according to the tally of the island’s one electricity provider, Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO).