Hurricane Gonzalo further strengthened into a 145 MPH monster today as it moves north towards Bermuda. Forecasters are confident that the hurricane will make a direct strike on the small island on Friday, potentially producing horrific damage as it moves through.

Last night, Gonzalo had 130 MPH winds and was expected to gradually weaken as it made its way towards Bermuda, home to about 64,000 people and thousands more tourists. Thanks to warm sea surface temperatures and light wind shear, the storm was able to strengthen into a very strong category four with 145 MPH winds.

Gonzalo is now the strongest hurricane to form in the Atlantic since Hurricane Igor in September 2010. Igor also struck Bermuda, producing sustained winds of 90 MPH in some spots.

The storm is now expected to hit Bermuda as a strong category three with sustained winds of 125 MPH with stronger gusts. The current projected path has the center of the eye skirting by the western side of the island, which puts Bermuda in the most dangerous spot of the hurricane—the right-front quadrant of the eyewall. In addition to winds well over 100 MPH, this will produce a "dangerous and life-threatening" storm surge on southern facing shores and inlets, accompanied by waves of 35 to 40 feet above sea level.

In anticipation of Gonzalo's arrival, all government offices and schools on Bermuda are closed during the day tomorrow. The causeway—which is where all four fatalities in 2003's Hurricane Fabian occurred—will close at 10:00 AM tomorrow. The causeway's low elevation makes it particularly susceptible to storm surge and destructive waves. USA Today reports that the island's international airport—the vast majority of its flights come from the U.S.—will close tonight and remain closed through Saturday.

Bernews and the Royal Gazette will continue to provide news updates through the storm. The Bermuda Weather Service provides local weather forecasts, observations, and radar data, while the National Hurricane Center issues forecasts every three hours until the storm clears the island to the north.

[Images: NASA, author]

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