Motorists were advised to be off the roads by 7pm tonight as the island hunkered down for the impact of Hurricane Paulette.
As of 10pm tonight the Hurricane Warning remained in effect as “hazardous southeasterly swells and surf quickly becomes dangerous while outer bands bring showers and squally conditions through tonight”.
According to the latest update by the Bermuda Weather Service (BWS) tropical storm force winds will upgrade to hurricane force winds later tonight.
“The centre of the expected Category 2 hurricane will pass nearby early Monday morning” as Paulette “turns northeast and rapidly moves away Monday night”.
The National Hurricane Center said “an Air Force hurricane Hunter aircraft investigating the hurricane earlier this afternoon measured peak flight-level winds of 84 knots, which reduces to about 67 knots at the surface”.
“However, since that time there has been steady improvement in the satellite presentation”, and the latest Dvorak satellite T-numbers are now at 4.5, “supporting increasing the initial intensity to 75 knots for this advisory”.
At last check, Paulette was “expected to remain in a low-shear environment over warm SSTs for the next 24-36 h, so gradual strengthening is likely during that time”.
“The latest NHC intensity forecast is little changed from the previous one and shows Paulette continuing to strengthen as it passes near or over Bermuda early Monday.
“The forecast also shows Paulette becoming a major hurricane by Monday night, after the cyclone has moved away from Bermuda.
“Paulette is moving northwestward at 11 knots, to the southwest of a mid-level ridge.
“This northwest motion should continue until just after the cyclone passes Bermuda Monday morning.
“A prolonged period of strong winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall is expected on Bermuda beginning this evening, and a hurricane warning is in effect for the island.”
Meanwhile, “swells produced by Paulette are affecting portions of the Leeward Islands, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the east coast of the United States”.
“These swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Based on the latest Bermuda Weather Service update, Hurricane Paulette is currently a Category 1 storm, about 200 nautical miles to the east southeast of Bermuda, moving towards us.
Paulette is moving into an environment where further strengthening is likely.
As such, an intensification of Paulette to a Category 2 storm is expected, as it approaches the local area.
The area of hurricane-force winds is slightly smaller than previously predicted, so the duration of those hurricane winds is now forecast to be 7 hours – from 3AM to 10AM Monday morning.
Maximum winds of approximately 85 knots with gusts to 100 knots are anticipated 6am on Monday morning, around the timing of the closest point of approach.
According to the NHC, Paulette is carrying maximum sustained winds up to 75mph and is “due to grow into a dangerous storm” as it approaches Bermuda in the north Atlantic Ocean.