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Bermuda braces for approach of major hurricane Humberto

Bermuda braces for approach of major hurricane Humberto
The eye of Hurricane Humberto is seen as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hurricane Hunter flies across it, September 16, 2019, in this still image from video obtained via social media. NOAA/Lisa Bucci/via REUTERS -
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NOAA/LISA BUCCI(Reuters)
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By Don Burgess

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) – Bermuda residents boarded up windows of homes and businesses on Wednesday as Hurricane Humberto became a major storm on route the Atlantic archipelago, although forecasts showed they could be spared a direct hit.

Hurricane force winds and rains were expected to hit Bermuda by Wednesday night, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the storm’s eye was to the west of the archipelago, which lies about 650 miles (1,046 km) east of the United States.

The storm packed 120 mph (195 kph) winds and was moving at 16 mph (26 kph). It was a category 3 hurricane on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, the NHC said.

The storm’s core is expected to pass north of the archipelago in the evening. Flights have been cancelled from the main airport and some residents covered windows with wooden planks and metal sheeting to prepare in the capital Hamilton.

Officials have said they will end government ferry services at noon and close a major bridge leading to the airport in the evening. Schools were closed and ambulances on standby, a witness said.

The Atlantic storm season has picked up pace in recent weeks. The Bahamas is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, and as Humberto was gathering strength, the remnants of tropical depression Imelda moved inland across the Gulf coast of Texas and southeastern Louisiana, bringing warnings of flash floods and heavy rains.

Intense rain bands were already sweeping the Houston area, bringing up to seven inches (18 cm) of rain, with another three-to-five inches or more predicted through Thursday, said Zack Taylor, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

“The weather will worsen as the day goes on,” Taylor said. “There are already reports of creeks overflowing, and there is a high risk of flash floods.”

Some parts of east Texas could see a total of 18 inches of rain including the Houston and Galveston areas before the storm weakens and moves into the eastern Plains, forecasters said.

(Reporting by Don Burgess in Hamilton, Bermuda; Rich McKay in Atlanta; Additional reporting by Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Editing by David Gregorio)

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