Sept. 18 -- While Bermuda avoided a direct hit from powerful Hurricane Humberto, the storm unleashed rain, fierce winds and pounding seas on its close approach late Wednesday.
After having reached Category 3 hurricane strength Tuesday night as it tracked closer to Bermuda, Humberto late Wednesday just skirted north of the islands.
As of 5 a.m. EDT Thursday, Humberto was located about 250 miles northeast of Bermuda and moving northeast at 22 mph with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph with higher gusts. The hurricane and tropical storm warnings that were in effect for Bermuda have been discontinued.
While still a powerful storm, the National Hurricane Center forecast it will weaken Thursday as it continues its rapid north-northwestward path though it should slow into the night and Friday morning when it will make a east-northeast turn.
Bermuda officials announced at a press conference that most public services would close early Wednesday afternoon ahead of Humberto.
"Storm force winds are expected to pick up and we would now like to advise the public that they are to be off the road by 5 p.m. today," Minister of National Security Wayne Caines.
Caines added that public schools and government offices were closed at noon Wednesday. Schools are expected to stay closed Thursday.
The famous Causeway, a strip of land and bridges connecting the main island to St. David's Island, was also closed at 6 p.m., Caines said. The Bermuda L. F. Wade International Airport closed at 3:00 p.m. and all flights due to arrive after that time were cancelled.
The last major hurricane to strike Bermuda was Nicole in 2016.
According to the Royal Gazette, Bermuda's Governor, John Rankin, issued an order for 120 members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment to be on standby in preparation for the storm.
Early Wednesday, Humberto passed over NOAA buoy on its journey towards Bermuda. A wave height of 32 feet was reported along with a wind gust of 94 mph.
Wednesday night, the top wind gust in Bermuda from Humberto is 132 mph at St. George's.
Bermuda's building codes require dwellings to withstand sustained wind speeds of 110 mph (177 km/h), which is the equivalent of a high-end Category 2 hurricane.
Ahead of the hurricane, the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Humberto on Bermuda was designated to be less than one.
Conditions will continue to improve across the islands through Thursday as Humberto tracks farther to the north and northeast.
AccuWeather meteorologists will be monitoring any potential impacts from Humberto in Atlantic Canada during the upcoming weekend. However, at this point, the risk of the storm directly impacting the area is low.
As Humberto cruises the western Atlantic, swells propagating outward from the hurricane will produce rough surf and strong rip currents along the East Coast of the United States.