Hurricane Bill now a Category 4 storm

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hurricane Bill on August 18
Image: NASA.

Following a period of steady intensification, Hurricane Bill is now a Category 4 major hurricane, as defined by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.

Bill formed on August 12 and became the 2009 season's first hurricane on August 17. For the past few days, the storm has been moving toward the west-northwest, but that is expected to change later this week as it turns more toward the north. After that, its track is uncertain, though National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasters believe the hurricane will pass between Bermuda and the United States.

As of 11 a.m. AST August 19 (0900 UTC August 19), Hurricane Bill was located within 15 nautical miles of 18.0°N 54.9°W, about 460 mi (740 km) east of the Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds were near 115 knots (135 mph, 215 km/h), with stronger gusts. Forecasters estimate the storm's minimum barometric pressure at 950 millibars.

Bermuda could be under the most significant threat from Bill, and officials there have been monitoring the storm's progress. Derrick Binns, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs and Housing, reported that "We have been following the storm closely since its inception, and today we reviewed our planning and procedures to ensure all are in sync. While we have not as yet issued hurricane warnings, I think it is important to advise residents to check their emergency kits to be sure supplies are adequate."

Cquote1.svg ...[it is] almost inevitable that the storm will find some part of Eastern Canada. Whether that’s the marine areas or the land district, it’s still too far to say. Cquote2.svg

—Peter Boyer, Canadian Hurricane Centre

Bill is expected to spare the United States from any significant impact, but forecasters advise that since the storm is still several days away, nothing is certain. Indeed, residents of Long Island, New York are keeping a close eye on the cyclone's progress.

Forecasters also warn that Bill could target parts of eastern Canada. Residents of Nova Scotia, mindful of the extensive damage from Hurricane Juan several years prior, are beginning to take precautionary measures.

Regardless of its exact track, Bill will likely generate rough surf and dangerous rip tides along the coast of the U.S. and Canada.

Tropical cyclones are known to be unpredictable, so interests in the regions potentially in Bill's path are urged to track the storm's progress over coming days and review emergency plans.


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