Hurricane Igor churns toward Newfoundland after brushing past Bermuda, roiling US waters

By Jason Bronis, AP
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Igor heads for Newfoundland after passing Bermuda

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — Hurricane Igor barreled northeastward toward Canada Tuesday, leaving behind power outages, grounded boats and downed trees in Bermuda and kicking up dangerous surf on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

A tropical storm warning and a hurricane watch was up for the coast of Newfoundland, where people were urged to prepare for possible power failures and flooding from heavy rain.

The Canadian company Husky Energy evacuated workers from two semi-submersible drilling rigs working the White Rose offshore oil field, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

Igor doggedly stayed just above hurricane strength, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). Early Tuesday, the storm center was about 245 miles (460 kilometers) south-southwest of Cape Race in Newfoundland and moving to the northeast near 41 mph (67 kph), the Canadian Hurricane Centre said.

Heavy rain began in some places Monday night as a trough of low pressure over the Canadian Atlantic province interacted with tropical moisture ahead of Igor. Police reported more than half a meter of water on one highway in the province.

The largest school board in the province closed its buildings down for at least the morning.

“We’re as ready as we possibly can be ready,” said Dennis O’Keefe, the mayor of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“We know there’s predictions for heavy rainfall. Every precaution and every action that can be taken by city crews in preparation for that storm has been put in place.”

After brushing past Bermuda, Igor veered away from the United States, but forecasters said it could still cause high surf and dangerous rip currents along U.S. beaches.

A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, North Carolina, where he was pulled from the water Sunday afternoon. Last week, 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.

Bermuda, a small British territory, escaped major damage and injuries when Igor passed about 40 miles (65 kilometers) to the west Monday night. High winds toppled trees and utility poles, and several boats were pushed aground, including the ferry Bermudian used to carry cruise ship passengers to shore.

Bermuda’s power utility said electricity was knocked out for approximately half the island, which has 68,000 inhabitants.

In Mexico, meanwhile, authorities increased the toll of known dead to 16 from flooding and mudslides as Hurricane Karl hit the southern part of the country Friday. Looting was reported Monday in parts of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, with people carrying bags of food out of stores in waist-deep water.

Meanwhile far out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lisa formed early Tuesday with winds near 40 mph (65 kph). The storm is located about 530 miles (850 kilometers) west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa.

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