World News

Hurricane Bill looms in Atlantic at Category 4

Posted August 19, 2009

— Hurricane Bill howled over the open Atlantic as a dangerous Category 4 storm Wednesday, and it could be energized by warmer waters as it moves north.

"We expect more intensification," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. "Bill could have top winds Thursday afternoon of 145 mph."

Forecasters said Bill should begin pushing large swells toward Bermuda and parts of the southeastern U.S. coast by the weekend, but it wasn't yet clear how close the storm will come to land.

The National Hurricane Center also said people in the Leeward Islands should keep an eye on the storm, though its core was expected to pass well to the northeast of the chain in the next 24 hours. Fishermen in Antigua were advised to dock their boats.

As strong as Bill already is, it could get stronger because it's traveling into warmer waters in the Atlantic that could intensify the storm, said senior hurricane specialist Lixion Avila.

"The warm ocean is like the fuel for car," Avila said Wednesday. "If you get high octane gas you get more power – that's what warmer water does."

Bill was maintaining a top wind speed of 135 mph Wednesday, hours after it became a Category 4 storm, and forecasters said it could get stronger. The storm's center was located 335 miles east of the Leeward Islands and it was moving west-northwest near 20 mph.

Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist at National Hurricane Center, said there's no reason for the storm to weaken over the next few days. While the path is taking it mostly over the water, Pasch said the effects of the storm are going to be felt well removed from the center.

Computer models continue to keep the storm's path away from the eastern coast of the United States.

"We can't be absolutely sure, but we're feeling pretty good about it," Pasch said.

Islands in the northeast Caribbean could see bigger waves from the storm in the next day or two.

The most significant threat could be to Bermuda, which the storm could pass in three or four days, forecasters said. But it also could move directly between Bermuda and the eastern coast of the U.S. without making landfall.

It was too early to tell if Bill would veer close to shore over the weekend or swing away from the East Coast of the U.S., but the five-day forecast predicted its center would pass well offshore of the North Carolina-Virginia line Saturday.

"In terms of a direct hit – a landfall in North Carolina – ain't gonna happen," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

North Carolina could feel some effects of the storm through the weekend.

Fishel said waves could be higher than 10 feet in some areas. "That raises the possibility of coastal flooding, especially at high tide, and ocean overwash on Highway 12," he said.

Effects could include heavy surf, some beach erosion and maybe rip current danger.

A cold front was expected to turn Bill to the northeast, but it wasn't clear when that would happen, Blake said.

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  • this is my Screen Name Aug 19, 2009

    Totally awesome, Dude!

  • Deacons Aug 19, 2009

    this storm will not touch land except maybe the canadian maritimes... there is no need for excitement

  • Space Mountain Aug 19, 2009

    I would keep a close eye on this one if I lived in New York or New England. Can you imagine if this thing hit NYC?

  • curiousgeorgia Aug 19, 2009

    Hmm, Bill and Hillary are going to be in Bermuda this weekend... Think BILL will pay them a visit?

  • MyNameIsMud Aug 19, 2009

    Maybe it will take some of the surfers with it. That way they'll stay out of my fishing line this fall. Or maybe I should put on some extra hooks.

  • bluecharger Aug 19, 2009

    maybe Bev will look at this bill and reduce it's funding 5%

  • lornadoone Aug 19, 2009

    RAWR RAWR IM SO TUFF BECAUSE IVE LIVED THROUGH 5 MAJOR HURRICANES 38 TORNADOES AND A METEOR HITTING THE EARTH RAWR RAWR

  • baracus Aug 19, 2009

    I used to think that extreme weather was a lot more exciting before I owned a house. Now I could do without it.

  • daisymom Aug 19, 2009

    Libandproud, i knew what you meant the first time! Was in Wilmington for DIANA!

  • bikinibare Aug 19, 2009

    wooooohooooo....physco surfer weekend....right on right on!!! I want to go watch them because I know they will be out there!

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