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Paradise in Peril: Cat. 3 Hurricane Gonzalo Rages Torward Bermuda, Ana Threatens Hawaii

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Two tropical systems — one on either side of the globe — are threatening the lives of more than a million people.

In the Atlantic, Hurricane Gonzalo — which has vacillated between a Category 3 and Category 4 storm over the last few days — is on a collision course with Bermuda. While in the central Pacific, Tropical Storm Ana is closing in on hurricane strength and closing in on the Hawaiian Islands.

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive analysis of both storms.

Hurricane Gonzalo

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The most powerful hurricane of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is cutting a path toward Bermuda and it’s going to pack a life-threatening punch.

At present, Hurricane Gonzalo is located about 75 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and is moving north-northeast at 16-mph. The storm currently has winds sustained at 115-mph and has a central pressure of 951 millibars. The National Hurricane Center says the eye of the hurricane has widened to nearly 30 miles.

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Gonzalo’s powerful winds have created conditions that warrant the issuance of hurricane warnings for the island of Bermuda — an overseas territory of Great Britain.

Gonzalo is now past its peak intensity — winds topped out at 145-mph on Thursday. But the hurricane’s winds remain worryingly strong and, at this point, it’s forecasted to impact the island nation with winds in excess of 115-mph.

The position of Bermuda in the northeastern quadrant of the storm could inundate south-facing beaches with significant storm surge, making a potentially dire situation that much worse.

Gonzalo is expected to maintain its tepid northerly track, before getting swept up in a trough and drawn off toward the northeast late Saturday. The present track has Gonzalo passing just east the island of Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane. Just last week, Bermuda was lashed by Tropical Storm Fay as the storm passed nearby.

According to bernews.com, the Bermuda Weather Service says Gonzalo looks like Hurricane Fabian. That storm, which pounded the islands with 120-mph winds in 2003, caused more than $300 million in damage and the deaths of four people.

As of 3 p.m. local time, on Friday, winds at Bermuda’s main airport were steady at 64-mph — just under hurricane-force and gusting to 86-mph. As the afternoon progresses, conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate. And by late evening, the full-force of Gonzalo will be roaring ashore.

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This will be a life-threatening situation. So, if you live in Bermuda it’s imperative to hunker down until the all clear is given by officials. In addition to the threat of destructive winds, high waves and huge storm surge is expected. Bermuda Weather Service’s forecast sums it up best, “15-20 foot seas build 35-40 feet just after high tide at 5 p.m. A dangerous and life-threatening storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding and will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.”

The Royal Gazette reports officials urged weather-weary residents to prepare for the worst and they seem to have responded appropriately. “I’m pleased to see preparations people have made,” said, Michael Dunkley, the Premier [head of government] of Bermuda.

Even after the winds have died down early Saturday morning, conditions on the island will still be dangerous. Downed power lines, debris and residual flooding could create hazardous conditions for days.

After leaving Bermuda, Gonzalo will then rocket northward, become extra-tropical and likely affect the eastern tip of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland. After brushing Canada, the remnants of Gonzalo could cross Britain early next week.

Hurricance Ana

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A hurricane in the central Pacific Ocean could affect Hawaii starting in the early morning hours of Saturday. Ana is packing winds of 75-mph and is likely stay a low-end Category 1 hurricane through late Saturday, local time. The latest information from the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, has the storm centered about 230 miles southeast of Hilo. Currently, it’s moving west-northwest at 14-mph and has a minimum central pressure of 990 millibars.

A strong ridge of high pressure — north of Ana — is expected build in the next day and will act to keep Ana on it’s westerly course. The ridge will also significantly slow Ana’s forward progress. While it was originally thought the storm may directly impact the Hawaiian Islands, the latest track has the storm just south of the Aloha State.

ana track

Does that mean Ana will have little affect on Hawaii? No, it will still pass close enough to the islands to create breezy and rainy conditions. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the for the entire Hawaiian Island chain.

While winds will be a concern, flash flooding and mudslides could be the biggest threat associated with Ana. If you see a flooded-out road, don’t cross it; a foot of fast-moving water is enough the sweep your vehicle downstream.

WeatherNation meteorologists will be keeping an eye on these fluid situations through the weekend. We’ll bring you the latest, on-air and online, as new information becomes available.

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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