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Hurricane Nicole strengthens as it heads for Bermuda


NEW YORK — Bermuda is in the direct path of Hurricane Nicole and it looks to make devastating damage as it passes by Thursday morning.

The cyclone is now a dangerous category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph.

Tropical Storm Force winds of 39 mph or higher are expected Wednesday night. Hurricane force winds extend some 45 miles away from the center of the storms.

By early Thursday morning, those winds will reach the island and last for some 4-5 hours.

Latest radar images as of Wednesday evening from the Bermuda Weather Service shows Nicole’s outermost rain bands roughly some 20 miles south of the island and moving in sometime before midnight local time. As much as 4 to 8 inches of wind driven rain is expected as the storm passes.

A dangerous storm surge of 6 to 8 feet is expected to swallow up the coast and it is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

The saving grace from the storm is the expectation for Nicole to increase its forward speed. As of Wednesday evening, the storm is moving north-northeast at a slow 10 mph. When the storm speeds up, that may limit the damage, but it will be to a very small degree.

The powerful storm could be the first direct hit for the island since Hurricane Gonzalo in 2014. While hurricanes are common for the island, a direct landfalling storm is rare as a result of its small size.