Videos/Updates: Tropical Storm Maria

September 15, 2011

[Updated] The Bermuda Weather Service has issued a ‘Hurricane Watch’, saying that Tropical Storm Maria is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane as it passes to our west this morning [Sept.15]. The ‘Hurricane Watch’ is in addition to the ‘Tropical Storm Warning’ issued yesterday.

“Maria is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane as it passes to our west this morning. Winds will rapidly increase 40-50 knots by later this morning with even stronger winds possible in the west, especially western marine area. Heavy showers & thunder will accompany the winds into this afternoon before easing this evening. Winds will sharply decrease as Maria quickly races to the north tonight, however a trailing band of moisture will keep wet conditions into the weekend,” said the BWS.

Tropical Storm Maria’s closest point of approach is predicted to be 114 nautical miles to the west north-west around 1pm today. The storm is carrying maximum sustained winds of 65mph [100 km/h] with higher gusts.

Update 8:10am: The majority of flights have been cancelled today, with more cancellations expected to follow.

Update 8:15am: Officials said Police officers are stationed on both sides of the Causeway, which is presently open and being monitored by officials. Schools are open at this time. Officials said decisions will be made as time/Maria progresses, and the public will be updated accordingly.

Update 8:52am: A BA spokesperson said, “Please be advised that the British Airways flight to and from London this evening has been cancelled due to tropical storm Maria. Passengers will need to contact the airline as soon as possible in order to rebook their flights. The number to call is 1-800-AIRWAYS. British Airways regrets the inconvenience to its passengers.”

Update 9:00am: The Causeway is shown in the video below as of 8:50am today. There has not been a decision made on any possible closure as of yet, however officials will provide updates as able. Although officials said police officers were stationed on both sides, we did not see any sign of a police presence on the St George’s side.

Update 9:33am: Weather conditions at Watch Hill Park as of 9:15am.

Update 9:53am: A Transport Ministry spokesperson said, “Please be advised that until further notice all Sea Express Ferry services are currently suspended except for the Pink Route. In addition, all flights scheduled for arrival at LFW International Airport for today have been cancelled, although the Department of Airport Operations is still waiting on final word on the two evening American Airlines flights. ”

Update 10:15am: Shadow Minister of National Security Senator Michael Dunkley said, “This morning the Bermuda Weather Service has posted a hurricane watch for the island and the nasty weather has already impacted the island. We urge everyone to take the necessary precautions in light of our current weather conditions and the potential for a further deterioration of the local weather as Maria passes close to the island. We should not be complacent today and do all that is required for us to be safe and secure while this storm passes.”

Update 10:30am: The latest Government update said the Causeway remains open but is being monitored, all Government schools remain open, all flights have been cancelled, and all Sea Express Ferry services are currently suspended except for the Pink Route. The official statement follows in full below:

Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne N. M. Perinchief, JP, MP, would like to inform the public that at this time the Causeway remains open.

Engineers from the Ministry of Public Works are currently assessing the bridge as well as Police officers are stationed at both ends. All decisions taken will be guided by what is in the best interest of the public’s safety.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education is advising the public that it is guided by the Emergency Measures Organisation and at this time, all Government schools remain open.

Additionally, until further notice all Sea Express Ferry services are currently suspended except for the Pink Route.

All flights scheduled for arrival at LFW International Airport for today have been cancelled, although the Department of Airport Operations is still waiting on final word on the two evening American Airlines flights.

All updates will be disseminated to the public as soon as they become available.

Update 10:44am: Heritage Night in Dockyard is cancelled tonight due to the weather.

Update 11:42am: American Airlines flights AA308 and AA1438 scheduled for this evening have also been cancelled.

Update 12:00pm: National Hurricane Centre reports Maria “just below hurricane strength” with maximum sustained winds of 70mph

Update 12:05pm: In their 12pm update, the Bermuda Weather Service update said Tropical Storm Maria is 112 nautical miles west of Bermuda and its closest point of approach within 72 hrs [3 days] is forecast to be 101 nautical miles to the west north west at 1 pm today.

bwswtnt241200 Bermuda 2011

Update 3:37pm: A statement from the Government said Maria has passed its closest point of approach and has not yet intensified to hurricane strength. The official statement follows in full below:

While Bermuda has been spared any major impact from Tropical Storm Maria, the Island continues to feel remnants of the weather system.

Winds at the Causeway saw a brief increase to 40 knots with gusts to 50 knots , but there have been no sustained winds reaching 50 knots today. However, Bermuda can expect a continuation of the tropical storm force winds for the next few hours.

According to the Bermuda Weather Service, the winds are no longer blowing across the Causeway and at this point, the bridge will continue to be open. However there is now a crosswind at the runway at the LF Wade International Airport.

While the Hurricane Watch has been dropped for Bermuda, a Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect. Maria has passed its closest point of approach and has not yet intensified to hurricane strength.

Update 4:13pm: All ferry commuter services to Rockaway, Cavello Bay, Paget and Warwick will operate to schedule commencing at 4:10pm. Watford Bridge, Dockyard and St. George’s will remain suspended until further notice.

Update 4:24pm: Video of John’s Smiths Bay earlier today:

Update 6:00pm: Now past the closest point of approach to Bermuda, Maria has strengthened into a hurricane, the third of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The Bermuda Weather Service said, “Maria has now passed its closest point of approach to Bermuda, and has once again become a category I hurricane. A trailing frontal trough will continue to provide showers and likely thunderstorms through Saturday. This trough will then push north of Bermuda allowing showers to ease Sunday, and fair weather to return Monday.”

Update 7:44pm: At approximately 4:30pm a tree crashed into the roof of a beauty salon in St George’s, more info/photos here.

Tiger Bay tree Tropical Storm Maria hurricane weather Bermuda September 15 2011-1

Update 8:45pm: Photo gallery of the weather conditions today posted here.

bermuda ocean ts maria 2011

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  1. Photos: Tree Crashes On St George’s Roof | | July 28, 2012
  1. oh my says:

    Maria better make up her mind if she wants to be a hurricane or storm :-)

  2. Just Curious says:

    Maria, you disappointed ME!

  3. just me says:

    Oh there was a police presence there, they were giving out tickets…geeshhhh

    • idiots says:

      yeah thats exactly what i saw no type of monitoring conditions jus tryna monitor the traffic. And thy wonder y they get no love from the public

  4. CB says:

    Bermuda has to be the only country in the world that makes closure decisions based on conditions “right now”, as in, “right now, the causeway is passable, so we have no plans to close it but we will reassess closer to the closest point of approach”. Has BWS lost so much credibility that we no longer use their forecast to predict conditions? Also, I’m not sure how relevant conditions at the causeway are for a storm passing to the West of the island – shouldn’t we monitor conditions in Somerset, i.e. the part of the island closest to the storm’s centre?

    If they do determine to close the causeway, it will be chaos getting kids out of schools and people out of town, which leads me to believe we will all be riding this little blow out in our schools and offices.

    • Bermyman says:

      You’re 100% right , just another case of the government not knowing what they are doing, probably because no one was out of bed early enough to make a decision. So we have a potential hurricane next to us with 50-60kt forecasted but we still send people to school and work. Around 1pm today there is going to be complete chaos as you said. If you live in St Georges or St.Davids I would head home now because if your office or school closes you will be stuck for most of the afternoon. There is still Tornado potential from a storm like this!

    • cottage says:

      It is the EMO who make the causeway decision & pubic notices. If anyone has been paying attention as they should do in hurricane season, esp when a tropical storm or hurricane is heading our way, then they would know that BWS has had this system covered since it began. It is true I think EMO should have called a storm day today & children should NOT have gone to school… even based on the Hurricane Watch issued yesterday!

      • Not Surprised says:

        Absolutely, this is not the BWS decision, this is a government decision, and one that should have been made this morning. Not “oh let wait till closer to the time then make a decision” Sigh, but then again i have come to expect ignorant decisions or lack of decision, from this bunch. They are on Bermuda time, Last minute and late!

  5. 1minute says:

    Do you know if it is rumour or fact that the buses going west will be cancelled this afternoon?

    • bernews says:

      No clue right now….we’ve asked about buses, so are waiting on official word…

  6. SMH says:

    Thanks BERNEWS. You’re beating the pants off the other guys who ain’t even tried to change until you came along. Heck! Even Defontes is trying new stuff!

  7. Interesting says:

    Thanks Bernews for the update. This morning on my way to work around 8:00am I did see the police on the St.George’s side with the radar. And we did get a few slapshes as we drove cross the causeway something we experience often in winter weather. Hope all stay safe crossing.
    Thanks again for the update.

    • Wondering says:

      Note – The policeman on the St. George side had one not so happy fella just by the ole bridge and the splashes were coming over the causeway near Blue Hole hill – not sure if tide was coming or going…

      We need to take notes from Mayor Bloomberg and all of the Mayors along the Eastern Seaboard make your decision and make it early – see what happepned in Vermont – bridges washed away – I don’t need to live through another Fabian (causeway washed out) experience – not claiming, just noting.

  8. Captain says:

    ” Although officials said police officers were stationed on both sides, we did not see any sign of a police presence on the St George’s side.”

    They were there at about 7:30 am, right on the roundabout…….with the speed gun!!!!

    • bernews says:

      LOL. Thanks…we managed to miss that, didn’t see them on that side at 9am.

  9. SuperMom says:

    Any news on whats happening with the schools yet? Heard that one closed already, but cant get confirmation….

  10. Not Surprised says:

    A little disaapointed that we are hearing nothing on any plans.Is this going to be left for last minute? I think government needs to consider some forward planning and allow ample time for people to secure their families in the event of this getting worse (collecting children from school getting home safely). I know it’s like a winter storm, but can they please communicate with the public? It’s like crickets (dead silence, with just the sound of crickets). Are we going to here of what to do when we are in the worst of it and put outselves at risk and our children at risk. I have a few nervous mothers here at work that travel by bike with their childrenm do we really want to endanger these individuals?? SMDH at least governement could be a bit more vocal and let us know what they think ir don’t think and what time they are going to make decisions. They last thing we need to hear is “Is to dangerous to travel over the cause way and we will be closing it in an half and hour”

    • Bermyman says:

      They don’t know what they are doing because they are not meteorologists and for some reason seem to be ignoring all the information from actual meteorologists. I really hope that no one is hurt, today should not be business as usual but as usual we have a very poorly run and managed part of the government who are currenlty failing the public. Make a safe decision for yourself and head home now!

    • cottage says:

      it is not like a winter storm… very different from it, that is why it is called something different, looks different, acts different, is (usually) taken seriously, it is (usually) understood that it is harder to predict & can change quickly. This is why they are named & given the hype they deserve. Not saying that some winter storms don’t have higher winds and don’t do damage… just they are NOT the same.

  11. What is happening at the Berkeley Institute?? Hearing alarms and sirens….and the kids out in the rain!!!!

    • Wondering says:

      should you find out – please let us know, my daughter is a student there…. could have been a fire alarm was triggered….. – they should let them go to the Gymnasium…

    • Berkeley Student says:

      The fire alarm went off. Smoke in the science room- sensitive alarm.

  12. Terry says:

    Decision making is not one of Gover(n)ments….well yah no. Better to er on the side of caution. People won’t critisise if nothing gets really bad. Really, they won’t…….

  13. Babs says:

    I agree with most of what is being said here however would like to point out that most, if not all, businesses also expect their staff to be at work all day today regardless of the fact that schools may close early and with little thought to the safety of their employees. Whilst I dont agree with shutting the Island down whenever there is a stiff breeze, I do think that when there is potential for hurricane strength winds the most important thing on everyones minds should be safety.

  14. Luppy says:

    Hoping it doesn’t really make up too much – especially since my child is in school in warwick. Can you imagine the pandemonium if we have to go get our kids in the height of the storm. Not well thought out at all! But then again, these days not much is. We have such a reactive government – hoping for a proactive change!!!!

  15. Drove by the airport at 8:05am. Someone was getting a ticket. Western side I did not see any police officers. Anyway, does anyone remember the last time the causeway closed? The notice came out around 4:00pm, leaving anyone heading east past the airport 30 minutes to make it across and most of us living in St. George’s were trapped on the wrong side for a good 4 or 5 hours sitting in our cars. Plus the gas station closed on time. lol talk about a lost opportunity to make a few extra dollars. Looking out my 5th floor office wall (it’s glass) all seems to be fine. The calm before the storm. Posted 11:27 am for reference.

  16. Pastor Syl says:

    There is a fine balancing act between shutting down the island for a big blow and allowing businesses to ‘be about their business.’ I don’t blame anybody for waiting until the last hour or two to make a decision. The days of staying home from work or school because of a hard rain are long gone.
    In all the years before we lost those unfortunates on the bridge, and the bridge was destroyed, there was seldom a thought of closing the bridge. Admittedly, some caution needs to be taken, but, let’s be real, in this financial climate, it isn’t feasible to disrupt everything on the possible threat of a hurricane, especially tropical storm that may not even become a Category One.

    • Yes and back in the day we didn’t have cold hearted bus drivers who just don’t give a damn about anything or anyone but themselves!! I watched and heard a bus driver tell several children (at all 3 levels) this morning to go home the buses were being cancelled! I told the kids to stay put…7 mins later a bus came off Berkeley Road!! So @ Pastor Sly – I hope you do not have any kids riding public transportation today!!

    • The people living in St. George’s won’t cause the island to shut down. No one saying shut the island down just let us east end workers get home or stay home. Some workers can continue working without being in an office. Just saying…laptop, DSL/Cable connection, this is 2011 after all.

    • Got to go says:

      Sorry mate, I have to disagree. I prefer to err on the side of safety, than have a mass panic of parents trying to pick up their children from school or trying to get across the causeway before it is suddenly shut down. Safety first!

  17. me says:

    Am i the only one thinking this doesnt seem so bad? We have winter days worse than this. I dont know what all the talk of school closure is for.

    • Eastern says:

      @ me

      I have travelled over the Causeway dailey for the last 40 years (and most of it on a motorbike) and at times in winds up to 70 knots. Remember it is not the wind that washes the causeway out; it is water. Maria is passing a hundred miles to our West and the possibility of a massive storm surge as in Fabian is much less. It is the storm surge combined with the waves that destroys the causeway, not wind. Water travelling across Castle Harbour from the South, combined with a storm surge and high seas reaches the causeway and has no where to go but up and over it. Did you not notice that in Fabian the parts of the causeway that didn’t get washed out were where there were arches under the causeway. If the water can’t go under the causeway it has no choice but to go up and over it, which causes the damage. Did you know that water moving at five knots has the same strength as a 200 m.p.h. wind. It is the water, not the wind.
      No need to panic as the storm’s closest point of approach is in about a half an hour (just after 1p.m.) The winds should start to subside by 6 p.m. or before.

    • cottage says:

      It’s because tropical systems are more complex, sometimes smaller, with less information about them than winter storms. It seems like small changes in direction or strength mean a big difference some times to what you actually get or feel.

      • cottage says:

        but you are certainly right about the causeway and swell. It is the swell & seas that washed away parts of the causeway & the victims… not the winds.

  18. TLB says:

    Sometimes in times like these, you have to use your common sense, and use your best
    judgement and not always rely on the government. I as a mother was not going to
    allow my young daughter, to be stuck on the wrong side on the bridge. Her school
    being in Paget and home being St Georges. The buses do not run properly as it is.
    The bridge could be closed down before the bus crosses it. And hurricanes are
    not stable they go where they want.I personally do what i believe is right for safety of my family.

  19. Martin Petersen says:

    Have anybody seen what the cruise ships in port there are doing???

  20. Aa says:

    Stopped by the Post Office and they said that they heard that the Afterschool Program has been cancelled in the Gov School. Please can you confirm this as there is only 22 mins left before school finishes and am at work.

  21. Vix says:

    Bernews, please confirm if the ferries are running. Co-workers are calling M&P and they say y es, but your site says no…thanks!

    • bernews says:

      This is what we were made to understand, just waiting on official confirmation before we add it as an update…

      “All commuter services to Rockaway, Cavello Bay, Paget and Warwick will operate to schedule commencing at 4:10pm. Watford Bridge, Dockyard and St. George’s will remain suspended until further notice.”

  22. Weather lookout says:

    Thank you for your timely and accurate updates as always, Bernews!