Hurricane Igor lashes Bermuda, churns up dangerous surf and rip tides along US East Coast

By Jason Bronis, AP
Monday, September 20, 2010

Igor kicks up dangerous surf along US East Coast

HAMILTON, Bermuda — Hurricane Igor kicked up dangerous surf along the eastern U.S. seaboard Monday after brushing past Bermuda and knocking out power to half the population.

The storm, already blamed for sweeping three people to their deaths, clung to hurricane status with winds of 75 mph (120 kph) as it sped away from the United States on a path projected to take it close by Newfoundland, Canada, on Tuesday.

In this tiny British Atlantic territory, the storm toppled trees and utility poles as its center passed 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the west overnight. Several boats ran aground, including the ferry Bermudian used to carry cruise ship passengers to shore. No major damage or injuries were reported.

By Monday night, the hurricane’s center was about 650 miles (1,045 kilometers) southwest of Newfoundland and moving to the northeast at 29 mph (46 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the coast of Newfoundland, where people were urged to prepare for possible flooding and power outages.

The Canadian company Husky Energy began evacuating workers from two semi-submersible drill rigs working the White Rose offshore oilfield, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

Igor was not a direct threat to the United States, but forecasters said it would cause high surf and dangerous rip currents.

A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, N.C, where he was pulled from the water on Sunday afternoon. Last week, the high surf kicked up by Igor swept two people out to sea in the Caribbean — one in Puerto Rico and another in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Weather Service in New York City said Igor was likely to churn up breaking waves of 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) Monday while passing about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the eastern tip of Long Island. A high surf advisory was issued for the city through Tuesday morning.

Bermuda’s power utility reported that roughly 28,700 customers lost electricity on the British territory of 68,000 inhabitants. It said approximately half the island was without power.

In Mangrove Bay at the island’s western end, two sailboats were driven onto the shore, their masts leading against trees. A fishing vessel also ran aground nearby with a large hole in its side. The cruise ship ferry ran aground near the town of St. George.

But islanders said the impact did not compare with Hurricane Fabian, which killed four people when it hit Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane in 2003.

“This was a powder puff compared to Fabian,” Claude Wright, 67, said as he surveyed the damage.

Richard Simons, who rents out cottages near Elbow Beach, said he found only downed branches on his property Monday morning.

“It will just take some sweeping and raking to clean up,” he said.

Officials said schools would be closed Monday and Tuesday, and a local newspaper canceled its Monday edition.

In Mexico, authorities said Monday that at least 16 people were killed in flooding and mudslides as Hurricane Karl hit the southern part of the country Friday. Looting was reported in parts of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, with people carrying bags of food out of stores in waist-deep water.

Far out in the Atlantic, a tropical depression formed late Monday and was likely to strengthen into a named storm, the U.S. hurricane center said. The 14th depression of the season was more than 500 miles (805 kilometers) from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa. It had winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was moving north at 6 mph (9 kph).

Associated Press writers Elizabeth Roberts in Hamilton, Bermuda, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Mike Melia in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

will not be displayed