Nicole, which is on track to hit Bermuda, strengthened into an extremely dangerous category four hurricane, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said late Wednesday.
Nicole was located about 290 kilometers south-southwest of Bermuda and was packing maximum sustained winds of 215 km per hour, the NHC said. The core of Nicole will pass over or near Bermuda on Thursday, the NHC added.
While Bermuda has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to storms, government officials urged people to prepare for the hurricane and remain indoors on Wednesday and Thursday. Earlier on Wednesday, authorities closed schools and government offices as shops and gas stations reported brisk business ahead of the storm, with people buying batteries, matches, alcohol and ready-cooked meals.
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Businesses were largely boarded up by Wednesday night, and dozens of vessels from one marina were already neatly packed away between historical buildings in Mangrove Bay, a popular spot for water activities in Bermuda’s northwest tip.
American Airlines and Air Canada are among several that have canceled flights to the island, and several cruise ships have canceled trips as well.
The hurricane is kicking up heavy surf in islands south of Bermuda including Puerto Rico, where authorities said they were looking for the body of a surfer who disappeared on Tuesday. He was identified as 37-year-old Gabriel Pantoja.