Hurricane Nicole moves away after pummelling Bermuda with wind
Hurricane Nicole has roared across Bermuda, pummelling the resort island with winds up to 115mph which snapped trees and peeled off roofs before the storm spun away into open water.
The Category 3 system also flooded homes, damaged boats that broke away from their moorings and knocked out power to more than 27,000 customers who live in the British territory, which has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to heavy weather.
By late Thursday afternoon, crews were clearing roads, and many islanders were posting pictures of calmer seas and clearer skies.
"Nicole is now racing away," said James Dodgson, deputy director at the Bermuda Weather Service. "There's been a bit of sunshine trying to poke through."
Forecasters expect to cancel a tropical storm warning later.
Hours earlier, Bermuda's 65,000 people got a brief respite from the storm's fury when the eye of the hurricane passed overhead. Authorities urged everyone to stay inside.
After the eye moved away, the wind grew strong enough to fling open a hatch on the weather service's radar, rendering it useless until the hatch could be shut, forecasters said.
In Nicole's aftermath, government officials inspected bridges and other structures. The Royal Bermuda Regiment removed uprooted trees and other debris from roads.
Clean-up efforts were continuing and the island's airport planned to reopen soon. Schools were scheduled to stay closed until Monday.
The hurricane weakened to a Category 2 storm as it churned toward the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was about 255 miles north-east of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 100mph. The system was moving north-east at 21 mph.
After strengthening to a Category 4 storm late on Wednesday, the hurricane lost steam overnight.
Although severe storms often affect Bermuda, a hurricane this strong is rare, the National Hurricane Centre said.
American Airlines, Air Canada and other carriers cancelled flights to the island, and several cruise ships also called off visits.