Hurricane Nicole pummels Bermuda with winds up to 115 mph

Nicole weakened on Thursday afternoon as it moved into the open sea after making a direct hit on Bermuda as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 65 miles (100 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 km).

In its 2 p.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami said hurricane conditions would continue over Bermuda for a couple more hours, and tropical storm conditions would persist into this evening.

Schools and government offices remained closed on Friday, while the island's worldwide airport is expected to open around noon.

The storm was located about 100 miles (165 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda early Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the government ordered schools and government offices as businesses boarded up.

However there are extensive power outages, with BELCO confirming there are 27,431 customers without power due to Hurricane Nicole, which is approximately 90 percent of customers.

Nicole has strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday as it approached Bermuda but lost steam overnight.

The Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO) said that almost 26,000 customers were without power, roughly 85 percent of its customers, and that many power lines and utility poles had been knocked down.

Sustained winds reached 75 mph at Pearl Island and at L.F. Wade International Airport where maximum gusts of 119 mph and 104 mph were recorded, respectively, the Weather Channel reported.

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Doors and windows began to rattle across Bermuda early Thursday as Hurricane Nicole approached the British territory as an extremely unsafe Category 3 hurricane.

Hurricane Fabian, which pummeled the island in 2003 and caused $300 million in damage, was a Category 3 storm. They were served a free lunch as they waited for the hurricane to blow through. Sustained winds exceeded hurricane force at observations points on the island nation before Nicole continued on its northeasterly path away from Bermuda and into the colder North Atlantic. Several cruise ships also called off trips.

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