Bermuda on alert as storm likely to skirt island

People in Bermuda braced Friday for a weekend of rough weather from Tropical Storm Leslie as forecasters said the system would likely regain strength and become a hurricane again while passing to the east of this Atlantic Ocean island.

The Bermuda Weather Service said the storm was on track to pass about 200 miles (321 kilometers) east-southeast of the island late Sunday afternoon as a Category 1 hurricane.

"It appears that Bermuda will be spared a direct impact," said Wayne Perinchief, the national security minister for the British territory. "However, I urge the public to remain cautious as there is the potential for the storm to re-intensify and change track, and we could experience heavy rain and winds in shower bands."

Some businesses were closing early and people crowded into shops to stock up on emergency supplies. At least one cruise ship canceled a stop in Bermuda and the airport was expected to close.

There was no widespread panic because the island, a wealthy offshore financial haven and tourist destination, has strong building codes and is accustomed to storms.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Leslie resumed forward movement Friday after staying stationary overnight. Late Friday, the storm had top sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph), below the hurricane threshold of 74 mph (120 kph).

The storm was about 360 miles (575 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and was moving north at 3 mph (6 kph). The U.S. center said it would likely strengthen Saturday and Sunday, adding that Leslie also was expected to begin gradually increasing its forward speed.

Out in the middle of the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael was a category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (160 kph). On Thursday, it was briefly the first Category 3 of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Michael was moving northwest at 6 mph (9 kph) over the open ocean and was not a threat to land. It was about 940 miles (1,515 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores.

Enlargephoto

This NOAA satellite image taken Friday, September 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM EDT shows relatively quiet conditions across most of the Caribbean. Tropical Storm Leslie is southeast of Bermuda moving slowly toward the north. In the Gulf of Mexico an area of low pressure has a low chance of tropical development. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)