Bermuda residents rushed to batten down for Hurricane Gonzalo, which is roaring toward the small British territory as a major Category 4 storm just days after a tropical storm damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines. Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, says it's too early to tell whether the hurricane will hit Bermuda tomorrow, but he warns residents to be prepared for severe weather. The government says it will close the island's international airport tonight, when tropical storm conditions are first expected. Several airlines increased the number of flights departing Bermuda ahead of the storm.
Gonzalo had top sustained winds of 140mph early today and was centered about 540 miles south-southwest of Bermuda. Forecasters say a dangerous storm surge accompanied by destructive waves could cause significant flooding on the island, which is about one-third the size of Washington, DC. Some 3 to 6 inches of rain is predicted. Bermuda's residents already were coping with the aftermath of Sunday's Tropical Storm Fay; more than 1,000 homes remained without power and homeowners worked to repair damaged roofs. Gonzalo swept by the eastern Caribbean earlier this week, claiming at least one life in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten. Two people were missing, one in French St. Martin and the other in St. Barts.