Gonzalo deals glancing blow to Newfoundland after battering Bermuda

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Hurricane Gonzalo pounded Bermuda with wind and heavy surf on Friday, bearing down on the tiny British territory as a powerful Category 3 storm that could raise coastal seas as much as 10 feet. (Oct. 17)


ST. JOHNS, Newfoundland — Hurricane Gonzalo struck a glancing blow to Newfoundland before racing out into the North Atlantic Sunday after earlier battering Bermuda without causing any deaths or serious injuries.

Gonazalo passed southeastern Newfoundland early Sunday, dumping heavy rain but the fast-moving storm left little trace besides pounding surf.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said about 1.9 inches (4.8 centimeters) of rain was recorded at St. John's International Airport on Sunday morning.

Meteorologist Chris Fogarty said the province "dodged a bullet."

"It pretty much tracked exactly where we thought it would and the winds over land were quite gusty and very heavy rainfalls but ... things stayed quite quiet over land," Fogarty said from Halifax.

Fogarty said wave heights were continuing to increase Sunday morning on the southern coast of the Avalon Peninsula, reaching up to 39 feet (12 meters). He said low tide was expected to help ease any effects of the crashing surf.

Sharon Topping, who lives in Trepassey on the Avalon's southeast coast, said there was no major damage or debris on the roads but the sea was churning. She said the waves were "phenomenal" at remote Cape Race on the southeast tip of Newfoundland where the distress signal from RMS Titanic was received on April 14, 1912.

"The ocean is furious," she said.

Onshore wind blasts up to almost 43.5 mph (70 kph) drove pouring rain sideways early Sunday at Cape Spear southeast of St. John's, but conditions weren't bad enough to keep more than 350 runners from competing in a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) road race on a grueling hilly course.

By midday, there was blue sky and sunshine over St. John's as Gonzalo headed over the North Atlantic toward Ireland and Britain. There were no reports of widespread power outages, damage or major injuries.

Three offshore oil installations with about 700 workers in the Grand Banks area did not have to be evacuated because the storm was tracking father west than earlier forecast, resulting in lower wind speeds and wave heights than anticipated.

In Bermuda, crews cleared away downed trees and power lines after Gonzalo hit the tiny, wealthy British territory. The storm's center crossed over Bermuda late Friday.

More than 18,000 homes in Bermuda were still without power Saturday night, but Premier Michael Dunkley said cleanup efforts were going smoothly. He said the U.S., Britain and other nations have offered assistance.

Gonzalo approached Bermuda as a Category 3 storm then weakened to Category 2 strength just before coming ashore with sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph). Even after beginning to move away, its fierce winds battered the island for hours.

Some Bermudians woke up to toppled concrete walls, uprooted palm trees and boats run aground. Gonzalo ripped part of the roof off the island's legislature as well as the roof of an exhibit at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo.

No catastrophic damage was reported on Bermuda, which has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world and is known for strict building codes meant to ensure homes can withstand sustained winds of at least 110 mph (175 kph).

The island's international airport remained closed Saturday night but officials said it might reopen Sunday afternoon.

Across the Atlantic, Britain's meteorological agency issued an alert for strong winds and heavy rain expected Tuesday from the remains of Gonzalo. It warned of the potential for significant disruption of travel and difficult driving conditions.

Gonzalo earlier claimed one life in the Dutch territory of St. Maarten.

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