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URGENT Hurricane Emily Hits Bermuda with Power That Shocks Forecasters

September 25, 1987 GMT

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) _ Hurricane Emily swept over Bermuda this morning with gusts up to 112 mph, blowing off roofs, causing some injuries, and shocking one forecaster who said its power ″defies ... the concept of meteorology.″

Emily’s eye passed over Kindley Field in Bermuda at 7:45 a.m. EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

Bryan Darby, government information officer in Bermuda, said authorities so far had received 166 reports of damage to buildings and that more reports were expected.

Darby said no fatalities had been reported. The number of injuries was not immediately available.

″Generally, there’s no major damage at the moment, just houses and properties have sustained roofs being lifted off and trees uplifted and things,″ David Bellingham, desk clerk at the Princess Hotel, told Associated Press Radio. He said the hotel was operating normally.

Darby said the injured were being treated at hospitals for cuts and bruises from flying debris. Most of the injured were people who ″were out and shouldn’t have been″ when Emily passed over the island, he said.

One elderly woman escaped with bruises after the slate roof on her house collapsed, Darby said. Cars parked in downtown Hamilton flipped over because of the strong winds, he said.

The cruise ship Atlantic, berthed at Hamilton dock, broke her moorings and had to be towed back to its docking when the eye of the storm was passing over the island, Darby said. The liner was en route from New York to Bermuda and was carrying about 700 passengers, Darby said.

Power was cut off over about 90 percent of the island and uprooted trees and debris blocked roads, he said. Authorities were working to clear roads, he said.

The island was hit with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and some gusts of up to 112 mph, said Commander Frank Bub of the U.S. Naval Oceanography Command Facility in Bermuda.

Emily then continued racing northeast at an unprecedented 40 to 45 mph, according to Bob Case of the NHC.

″What has taken place in the last 12 hours defies our knowledge and the concept of meteorology,″ Case said. A system moving forward at that speed should have weakened in force, not strengthened, Case said.

The hurricane should be well to the northeast of Bermuda by early this afternoon, he said. Earlier, Case said Emily did not threaten the U.S. mainland. A high pressure area over the Southeast was keeping the storm off the U.S. coast.

Overnight, Emily’s winds increased from 70 to 80 mph and it picked up forward speed, racing northeast at 45 mph at dawn, according to forecaster Hal Gerrish of the NHC.

″The reason it’s moving so very fast is because there is a strong (high pressure) front along the eastern coast of the United States and along that front is a flow of air from the southwest to the northeast. Emily is caught up in that flow,″ NHC meteorologist Joel Cline said earlier.

The National Weather Service issued a special cyclone bulletin at 2:45 a.m. after an Air Force reconnaissance plane clocked winds inside the storm at 1 mph over 74 mph - the defined strength of a hurricane, Gerrish said.

Emily began as a hurricane Tuesday, plowing into the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and leaving three dead. But the mountainous island broke up the system, reducing it to a tropical storm.

On Wednesday, Emily swept north through the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands with reduced 60 mph winds, leaving the chain relatively unscathed.

Emily is the second hurricane of the 1987 Atlantic season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30. It was the first hurricane in the Caribbean since Katrina in 1981.