Hurricane Leslie has been temporarily downgraded to a tropical storm as Bermuda is bracing for the storm to skirt the islands. The storm is expected to regain hurricane strength as it passes East of the islands, avoiding a direct hit.
The latest forecasts show that the storm will go by Bermuda about 200 miles east-southeast either Sunday afternoon or evening, reports AOL Weather.
The Bermuda Weather Service expects the storm to pass as a category 1 hurricane and Wayne Perinchief, the national security minister, stated Friday that:
“It appears that Bermuda will be spared a direct impact. However, I urge the public to remain cautious as there is the potential for the storm to re-intensify and change track, and we could experience heavy rain and winds in shower bands.”
Leslie stalled in the Atlantic on Thursday night and Friday, but by Saturday morning the storm was throwing sustained winds of 65 mph, traveling at 8 mph.
Some businesses in Bermuda closed early on Friday as shops were crowded by people buying emergency supplies. The island territory is a wealthy offshore financial haven and has strong building codes that help it be accustomed to storms.
CNN notes that, while the islands will not get a direct his from Tropical Storm Leslie, Bermuda’s Emergency Measures Organization warned that:
“Leslie could be a historic storm for Bermuda as it is very large and forecast to intensify rapidly as it approaches. The island could experience hurricane force winds for a sustained period of time, possibly up to two days.”
Wayne Perinchief, Bermuda’s national security minister, assured that officials are planning a “well-coordinated” response to any problems the storm may produce. Bermuda’s coastal area are already on the receiving end of heavy swells and dangerous currents. The Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the US East Coast all the way from Florida to New York are also experiencing swells and elevated currents from Leslie.