Four Missing as Fabian Slams Bermuda – Strongest Hurricane in 50 Years

Hurricane Fabian, a monster of a storm, packing winds of 120 mph (192 kph), slammed full force into Bermuda on Friday night, uprooting trees, downing power lines and causing extensive structural damage. Four people were reported missing, as authorities began cleaning up after the passage of the most powerful hurricane to strike the island since Edna in 1953.

According to news reports from the BBC and Reuters some 25,000 homes are without electricity, many have lost all or portions of their roofs, roads across the 22 square mile island are blocked in many places, and the causeway, connecting the main part of the island to its international airport, has been partially destroyed. The four people reported missing, two police officers and two civilians, were apparently in vehicles that were swept into the sea when the causeway collapsed during the height of the storm.

Fabian, a category 3 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, was also extremely large with hurricane force winds extending outwards for 115 miles (184 kms) from the center, around 330 miles (530 kms). The duration of the storm as well as its ferocity undoubtedly increased damages. Bermuda, however, has strict building codes, designed to withstand such storms, which have hopefully prevented greater losses.

No damage estimates have yet been given, but according to the BBC one of the island’s major attractions, its renowned golf courses, have been seriously damaged. Low lying areas were also hit by high waves and swells often reaching 20 or more feet (6.6 meters) above sea level.

Despite the widespread damages there are no indications that Fabian has significantly affected the island’s insurers and reinsurers. ACE Limited CEO Brian Duperreault issued a statement on Sunday noting that the company had received “no reports that any of our employees were injured during the storm and for this we are particularly grateful. We know that this has been a traumatic event for our staff and their families and we expect that it will be a few days before our entire Bermuda workforce of 300 is able to return to work.” He added that “ACE’s operations in Bermuda are fully functional and we are ready to resume business on Monday.”

While Bermuda cleans up, Fabian is continuing to move east-Northeast at around 25 mph (41 kph). According to the National Hurricane Service, the storm is currently around 330 miles (528 km) South of Cape Race Newfoundland. It could still threaten Canada’s Maritime Provinces, but the NHS indicated that, while its winds are currently in excess of 80 mph (130 kph), they are expected to weaken over the next 24 hours as Fabian moves into colder waters.

The NHC, however, has issued a new advisory bulletin on Hurricane Isabel. This storm, with sustained winds of around 90 mph (150 kph) is about 1430 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and is moving westward at about 15 mph (24 kph). “Some strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours,” said the NHC.