Leslie forecast to pass east of Bermuda

Sept. 7, 2012 at 11:38 PM

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Tropical Storm Leslie trekked slowly northward across the Atlantic Ocean Friday night, with U.S. forecasters predicting Bermuda would escape a direct hit.

Leslie, which was demoted from a Category 1 Friday morning, was managing maximum sustained winds near 65 mph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 p.m. EDT advisory. The storm was centered about 360 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and was churning northward at a sluggish 3 mph.

Leslie was forecast to gradually pick up forward speed during the next two days and pass to the east of Bermuda Sunday or Sunday night, the hurricane center said. Forecasters did not say how close they expect it to come to the British territory, where a tropical storm watch was in effect.

The hurricane center said the watch may have to be upgraded to a warning Saturday.

Tropical storm winds extended out 185 miles from the storm's center. Forecasters said the storm could regain hurricane strength during the weekend.

Public schools in Bermuda were closed Friday and government buildings were to close early, CNN reported.

Earlier this week, Bermuda's Emergency Measures Organization had warned Leslie could be a "historic storm."

Officials in Newfoundland were preparing for the possibility Leslie could hit Wednesday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said. Hurricane Igor caused extensive flooding and knocked out power for days in September 2010.

Forecasters said Leslie's predicted track could change in the next five days, with the storm remaining out to sea and bypassing Newfoundland, but hurricane center forecasters said residents should not bet on that.

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