Dangerous Hurricane Bill could threaten east Canada

Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:45pm EDT
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By Jim Loney

MIAMI (Reuters) - Powerful Hurricane Bill, a dangerous Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds, raged across the open Atlantic on Wednesday, days from land but on a path that could menace Canada's eastern provinces next week.

Sweeping past the Caribbean islands and posing no threat to U.S. oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico, the first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season was expected to charge between the U.S. East Coast and Bermuda, well offshore.

Residents of Bermuda, a mid-Atlantic British territory and reinsurance capital, were warned to prepare for the storm. The latest forecast track issued by the U.S. National Hurricane Center would take Bill more than 100 miles to the west.

But Bill's massive size -- tropical storm force winds of 39 to 73 mph extend up to 230 miles from its center -- meant Bermuda would get a good dose of heavy weather, forecasters said.

"All (computer) models keep the storm between the United States and Bermuda. Exactly how close it comes to either of those is up for debate," said National Hurricane Center forecaster Eric Blake. "The average error (in the forecast track) is 200 miles at about 3 days."

"Bermuda is expected to see large swells and areas of heavy rain and high winds. Hopefully the core of the hurricane will stay offshore," he said.

The Bermuda Sun newspaper reported that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, planned to fly to Bermuda on Wednesday for a private vacation of three to four days at a beach resort. The State Department declined to officially confirm where Clinton was.


<p>Hurricane Bill is pictured moving through the Atlantic Ocean in a satellite image taken August 18, 2009. REUTERS/NOAA/Handout</p>