Two beautiful lands on two different sides of the United States are under the threat of hurricanes today. Hurricane Gonzalo has 125 MPH winds and is nearing landfall in Bermuda, while Tropical Storm Ana is on the verge of hurricane strength as it skirts south of Hawaii.
The biggest weather story in the world today is Hurricane Gonzalo's approach into Bermuda. The hurricane has 125 MPH winds and the eyewall is about 100 miles to the island's southwest. Sustained winds at the L.F. Wade International Airport were 33 MPH at the last observation, and conditions are rapidly deteriorating as the main shield of rain starts to cover the island.
Bermuda is only fifteen miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide at its widest extent, so the fact that Gonzalo's eye will likely pass directly over the nation of 64,000 people is an incredibly rare event. The hurricane will be the strongest storm to hit Bermuda since Hurricane Fabian in 2003. Fabian had winds of 120 MPH and an enormous storm surge that caused $300 million in damages and killed four people.
The island is essentially on lockdown until the storm clears to its north. Most airlines cancelled flights back to the United States and Canada yesterday, stranding any remaining tourists until flights resume at some point this weekend or next week. Schools and government offices are closed, as well, and the island's causeway shut down at 10:00 AM. The causeway is where all four fatalities occurred during Fabian.
After Gonzalo moves north of Bermuda, it will still be a powerful storm as it loses tropical characteristics and makes a glancing blow to southeastern Newfoundland. The area is home to several hundred thousand people—St. John, the province's capital, is along Gonzalo's path—and it could provide some rough weather for the area on Saturday night through Sunday morning.
The Bermuda Weather Service's radar (the username and password are both "guest") has an excellent view of Gonzalo at this hour, and a webcam in Port Bermuda is documenting the intense winds as they quickly build up.
Tropical Storm Ana
In a stroke of luck, it looks like Tropical Storm Ana will skirt south of the Hawaiian Islands and produce little more than some rain, gusty winds, and clouds for the majority of the state's population. The Big Island is still under a tropical storm watch, and the windward side of the island could experience some hefty rainfall totals thanks to the effects of the terrain.
The big story with Ana is that it is a stellar example of why the cone of uncertainty is the most important part of a hurricane forecast.
On Tuesday, the forecast from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center showed that Ana would probably make a direct strike on the Big Island as a hurricane. By Thursday, the storm had changed little in organization and moved all the way to the far western end of Tuesday's cone of uncertainty.
Hawaii residents should still keep a close eye on how Ana develops this weekend, because there's still a chance that the storm could shift north-northwest and produce a greater impact on the islands.
[Images: NASA, author, Bermuda Weather Service, CPHC, author]