Forecasters warned residents to literally expect “calm before the storm” this morning as a winter storm warning is set to go into effect later today, when winds are expected to rapidly increase to gale force “with gusts to hurricane force” this afternoon.

According to the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS), high winds will prevail overnight “as a powerful low pressure system passes to our near north”.

“Blustery gales and colder temperatures along with the chance for small hail will follow on Friday then gradually easing by Saturday, yet still chilly.”

Minister of National Security Renée Ming held a news conference following the meeting held yesterday by the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO), urging residents to use their common sense as the the island braces for hurricane-force gales.

She was joined by Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) Director  Dr Mark Guishard, who said the onslaught of this winter storm is expected to set in around noon, bringing hurricane force gales to our shores for the first time in at least a decade.

“The worst of these potentially disruptive conditions should abate by the early hours of Friday morning,” he added, while urging residents to “stay abreast of current and forecast conditions by checking in regularly at www.weather.bm”.

Conditions first thing this morning “will be fairly pleasant, but then a rapid deterioration of the weather by lunch time will be evident,” he said.

“We are expecting gale force winds to have started by early afternoon Thursday.

“Occasional storm-force winds (48 knots or more), and hurricane force gusts are then anticipated on Thursday late afternoon, through evening. Associated with this system, a cold front will cross the area during the day, bringing periods of rain and heavier embedded showers,” said Dr Guishard.

“During the day on Friday, a cold surge of air will bring the temperatures down to the low teens Celsius / low-50s Fahrenheit, and northwest gales will continue. This will feel especially cold in heavy showers, perhaps occasionally even producing thunderstorms and small hail on Friday. Winds will gradually decrease into Friday evening, as high pressure starts to reassert itself.”

A small craft warning went into effect overnight.

“Seas outside the reef will also increase rapidly 20-30 feet on Thursday, but no adverse surge is anticipated with this winter system, unlike the hurricanes that come out of the south and often spend days building up the water levels before passing us.

“In general, these conditions are not anticipated to be as impactful as a hurricane, but caution and common sense must still be applied in making any preparations and going about daily activities.”

Minister Ming added: “We’re not expecting a significant disruption of public services, but out of an abundance of caution, we want to ensure that we are prepared for any and every eventuality and make the best decisions in the interest of public safety.

And I am pleased to note that all of our partner agencies are ready and prepared should the need arise. Fom a public safety stand point, our main message is urging care, caution and common sense.”

Although she does not expect “a severe interruption” of public services, the Minister urged residents “to make sensible decisions in the interest of safety should they choose to be out and about” during the storm.

Decisions finalised at the EMO meeting include the following:

  • The Causeway will remain open
  • The LF Wade International airport will remain open
  • Government Offices will remain open and services will continue throughout Thursday and Friday

The Minister’s Statement on Public Services

Buses:

The last public bus will be 4pm today and commuter service will stop at 5pm.Buses are scheduled to resume per normal on Friday morning. Mini-buses will provide school bus runs as normal.

Ferries:

The ferry service will be suspended from 11am this morning until further notice.

The Government shelter at CedarBridge will be open for anyone needing to be housed during the storm.

The operating hours of the shelter will be from 11am this morning until 9am on Saturday January 30.

Regarding public schools; schools will remain open on Thursday and Friday.

Public Schools will close at 3pm on Thursday instead of 3.30pm.

The DPT has advised that they can have buses collect children from schools by 3:07pm.

If children need to walk to Hamilton they can catch a bus either before or by 4pm when the last bus leaves.

As a particular note, CedarBridge students and teachers will have remote learning on both Thursday and Friday.

This is because the EMO needs to use the school building as a Shelter for our vulnerable persons on Thursday. Deep cleaning of the school will take place on Friday.

The Lamb Foggo Clinic will be operating on its winter hours of 4pm – 8pm. All BHB emergency services will be operating as normal.

The Vaccine Centers will also be operating per normal today and Friday from 9am – 1pm. What we are asking, is for people who are scheduled to attend the vaccine center to please remain in their cars until they are called to have their shot.

Following the passage of the storm our critical work crews from the Department of Parks and Works and Engineering will do an assessment of the roads and clear any debris.

Regarding trash collection, the schedule is per normal on Thursday and Friday.

The Ministry of Public Works is asking residents to please secure all garbage and recycling containers and bags to prevent them from being blown about.

Also please place garbage and recyclables out for collection no later than 7.30 am on the morning of your collection day.

The Tyne’s Bay public drop off, the Airport Waste Facility, and the Marsh Folly Composting Facility will remain open during regular hours.

Lastly and from a safety standpoint, if needed, residents should have secured their homes, packing away any outdoor furniture or plants or any other home equipment to prevent injury or damage.