Gonzalo has the potential to bring similar impacts to Bermuda this Friday as that of Fabian in 2003.
A hurricane of at least Category 3 strength is on track to threaten lives and property across Bermuda on Friday.
According to AccuWeather.com Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, “Bermuda is at risk for hurricane-force winds for at least six hours on Friday with gusts near 195 kph [120 mph].”
Similar to Fabian, extensive damage is possible during Gonzalo’s passage with the potential for significant and lengthy power outages and major impact on travel.
“This wind will severely damage roof tops, communications towers, utility poles and cause considerable tree damage,” Kottlowski added.
In addition, a large and life-threatening storm surge could exceed 10 feet and cause a major rise in water levels over coastal areas and causeways.
Gonzalo strengthened Wednesday morning to become the first Category 4 hurricane, with winds of at least 209 kph (130 mph), in the Atlantic Basin since Ophelia in 2011.
While curving away from the Bahamas and the United States, the powerful and dangerous hurricane is following in the footsteps of Fay and targeting Bermuda.
Gonzalo will still be a major hurricane as it makes its closest approach to Bermuda on Friday. The current forecast track takes Gonzalo very close to Bermuda with the strongest part of the hurricane, the eye wall, over the islands.
The eye of Gonzalo will approach near the time of high tide late this afternoon, which will add to the affect of waves and inundation by a couple of feet.
During early September 2003, Hurricane Fabian brought sustained winds of 120 mph and a peak gust of 164 mph to Bermuda. There were four fatalities in Bermuda with damage over $100 million (U.S.).
“As one of the strongest, costliest and the only storm to cause fatalities in Bermuda since the satellite era, the name Fabian was retired [after that hurricane season],” according to the Bermuda Weather Service.
Even if Gonzalo’s center narrowly misses the island nation, its track will still put Bermuda “within the full brunt of the hurricane’s worst weather,” stated Kottlowski.
Residents should be completing necessary precautions before conditions rapidly deteriorate Friday.
The worst of Gonzalo will slam Bermuda during the afternoon and evening hours on Friday.
Heavy rain totaling 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) threatens to cause flash flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
Forecast winds can cause great damage to structures and widespread power outages. Anyone outside during the brunt of the storm would be at risk for bodily harm by flying objects, or swept away by huge waves if traveling on causeways or standing too close to shore.
As recently as last Saturday night and Sunday morning, torrential rain and damaging winds battered Bermuda as then-Tropical Storm Fay passed by. A peak wind gust to 82 mph was measured.
Weather conditions will rapidly improve across Bermuda for cleanup, rescue and recovery operations later Friday night and Saturday as Gonzalo takes aim at Newfoundland, Canada.
Rough Surf, Rip Current Risk Continues Along US Atlantic Coast
Even though Gonzalo will be steered away from the United States, the danger of rough surf and strong rip currents will be present at the East Coast beaches Friday. The risk will continue along the beaches in the Northeast on Saturday.
People should not stand on jetties or breakwaters to view the surf as occasionally a very large wave can sweep ashore with very little notice.
Small craft operators venturing offshore should be on the lookout for occasional large waves.
Gonzalo has already been blamed for the death of an elderly man who was on a boat in St. Maarten’s Simpson Bay Lagoon, according to the Associated Press.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and Meteorologist Mike Doll contributed content to this story.