Hurricane Nicole, a major storm, approaches Bermuda

by Artemis on October 12, 2016

Updated Oct 13th, 14:00 BST 10:00AST: Hurricane Nicole has remains a very strong Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 125mph and higher gusts, and continues to track towards Bermuda where its large eye is forecast to pass very close to or even over the island.

Nicole was named a tropical storm on the 4th October and became a hurricane two days later. Then as hurricane Nicole was impacted by weather patters including Hurricane Matthew’s path it weakened again to a tropical storm as it meandered in the Atlantic.

Nicole then turned and made a beeline for Bermuda, strengthening as the storm passed over the warmer Atlantic and became a hurricane again yesterday (Tuesday).

As of Thursday morning, hurricane Nicole has sustained winds of 130mph or greater (having been upgraded to Category 4), with gusts a little higher. Nicole’s intensity is thought to have peaked and weakening is forecast later on Thursday, but the NHC warns that hurricane Nicole is likely to still be a major Cat 3 or stronger storm when it is nearest to Bermuda. Central pressure is currently estimated at 950mb.

Nicole weakened slightly to a strong Category 3 with 125mph winds, stronger gusts and a minimum central pressure of 953mb at the most recent update, but the NHC warns that hurricane Nicole will still be a major storm as it passes Bermuda.

Hurricane Nicole forecast track or path

Hurricane Nicole forecast track or path

Nicole has again increased in size which increases the likelihood of Bermuda feeling hurricane force winds, as the storm now has a particularly large eye.

Hurricane Nicole is forecast to track extremely close to Bermuda, perhaps over the island, and hurricane force winds are now estimated to extend outwards 65 miles from the storms center, with tropical storm force winds extending as much as 175 miles.

Bermuda is preparing for a hurricane strike and a hurricane warning is in place. Preparations to protect property and lives are well underway and Bermuda is a particularly resilient location given its exposure to storms.

Gonzalo in 2014 was the last major hurricane to threaten Bermuda and while the island is about as resilient to major storms as any, of course a major hurricane can cause damage and destruction.

Bermuda is a catastrophe reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) industry hub, home to a significant proportion of the expertise in this global marketplace.

Artemis urges our colleagues, contacts and friends on the island to heed the warnings and Nicole, make preparations and please stay safe as the storm nears Bermuda.

From an insurance or reinsurance loss potential point of view, Bermuda is well prepared for storms, sitting in one of the main regions of the Atlantic for hurricanes, with building codes generally robust and followed, while residents are largely experienced with storms and as a result typically prepared.

Offices in the city of Hamilton, where the reinsurance and ILS industry participants are largely based, will likely be closed today, Thursday, as Nicole is forecast to pass closest to Bermuda this morning local time.

Any deviation in the track, and Nicole has deviated a lot over the last week or so, could spare Bermuda a direct strike from the hurricane and lessen any impact considerably. But Nicole is now very near to Bermuda and it is hard to see the island escaping strong hurricane force winds.

The latest warnings from the NHC are below:

wind: hurricane conditions are expected to begin on bermuda this morning, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin soon.

storm surge: a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 8 feet above normal tide levels in bermuda. the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

rainfall: nicole is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches over bermuda through this evening.

surf: swells associated with nicole will affect bermuda during the next few days, and will spread northward along the united states east coast from the carolinas northward through the next few days.
these swells will create dangerous surf conditions and rip currents. please refer to products being issued by your local weather office for more information.

tornadoes: isolated tornadoes are possible on bermuda overnight and early thursday.

The latest update from Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting at 14:00BST can be found below:

COORDINATES: 31.6° north, 65.2° west (previous location: 28.4° north, 66.9° west)
LOCATION: 55 miles (85 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda
MOVEMENT: north-northeast at 15 mph (24 kph) (previous: north at 7 mph (11 kph))
WINDS: 125 mph (205 kph) with gusts to 160 mph (260 kph) (previous: 100 mph (160 kph))
RADIUS OF TROPICAL STORM-FORCE WINDS: 175 miles (280 kilometers)
RADIUS OF HURRICANE-FORCE WINDS: 65 miles (100 kilometers)
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE: 953 millibars (previous: 969 millibars)

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Bermuda


Major Hurricane Nicole, located approximately 55 miles (85 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda, is currently tracking north-northeast at 15 mph (24 kph). Nicole continues to have an impressive satellite presentation with a warm, well-defined eye and strong eyewall convection. The last Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft measured wind and pressure data that shows Nicole remains an extremely dangerous hurricane. Despite slight weakening, the NHC has kept the initial intensity at 125 mph (205 kph) – very strong Category 3 – as it nears the island of Bermuda.

The initial motion estimate is towards the north-northeast as the storm has begun to accelerate. All of the forecast model guidance shows the core of Nicole very close to Bermuda, and only a small westward adjustment was made to the first part of the NHC forecast. Nicole is beginning to accelerate generally northeastward ahead of a mid-latitude trough moving across the northern United States. However, this trough is forecast to move away from Nicole in a few days, leaving the cyclone meandering over the North Atlantic well southeast of Newfoundland, Canada. A ridge of high pressure is then forecast to build over the far northeastern Atlantic east of Nicole, which should help the system resume a slow northeastward motion by Day 5. The new NHC forecast is basically an update of the previous one and is very close to the multi-model consensus.

Southwesterly wind shear is forecast by all of the global models to increase rapidly today. In combination with a slow decrease in sea surface temperatures, these factors will likely cause Nicole to lose strength soon. The steady weakening trend is forecast to level off in about 36 hours as baroclinic forcing from a mid-latitude shortwave trough should help maintain Nicole as a strong cyclone through rest of the forecast period. The new NHC intensity forecast is a blend of the previous forecast, the intensity consensus and the global forecast models beyond 48 hours. While no changes were made to the timing of Nicole becoming post-tropical, there is considerable uncertainty on exactly what structure Nicole will have in a few days’ time. Regardless, all models forecast Nicole to be a large and powerful cyclone for the next several days.

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