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Gonzalo: First hand account in Bermuda, next stop: The United Kingdom

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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IMAGE: On Oct. 19 at 1500 UTC (11 a.m. EDT), the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Gonzalo east of Newfoundland, Canada. view more

Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Hurricane Gonzalo departed from Bermuda leaving power outages, downed trees, and damaged homes and buildings. An on-the ground account of the storm indicated the eye passed over the island. By Oct. 20, post-tropical storm Gonzalo was approaching the United Kindgom, sparking severe weather warnings.

By Sunday, Oct. 19 Gonzalo was affecting eastern Canada. Forecasters expect Gonzalo to hold together over while traveling east across the North Atlantic where it will affect Scotland as an extra-tropical storm on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Camille Haley was former NASA intern and is now a resident of Bermuda. She provided an account of her experience as Hurricane Gonzalo struck the island on Oct. 17.

"Light rain and wind slowly strengthened during the mid-afternoon, as Gonzalo approached Bermuda," she said. "At around 4:00 p.m. local time the wind and rain intensified by the minute. On a typical day, we can see the ocean from the veranda but there was no visibility within 100 feet at this point. I saw an electric wire fall in the neighbors' backyard; it continued to spark for hours. Trees were bending, branches were snapping and leaves were blowing everywhere. We were surrounded in darkness as the electricity in the area had gone out. Candles, flashlights and occasional strikes of lightning were our only light source.

Suddenly there was a strange silence. The wind and rain had come to a complete stop. Curious, I opened the front door to feel a smothering heat. The sky was clear and all that could be heard was the whistling sound of what seemed like a million tree frogs. The eye of the storm had arrived. If I had not known that the eye of Hurricane Gonzalo was going to approach us, I could have assumed that the storm had passed. Thankfully during this time, we were able to get a phone call through to my Aunt who lives in Boston. She was able gave us an update on what was predicted to come next. Without warning the wind roared fiercely followed by harsh rain. The second half of Gonzalo arrived with ferocity. In my opinion this was the worst part. I barely slept fearing that the front door and windows were going to implode. The howling sound of the wind was haunting.

The next morning the sky was clear and the ocean was calm. Although my neighborhood didn't suffer much damage, other than a few electric wires falling, other areas of the island had fallen light poles, wires and trees, crushed fences and walls. Some homes had roofs that fell in or came completely off. I'm amazed at how many trees were uprooted or fallen over across the island."

By October 18, Gonzalo had moved north of Bermuda and was headed toward eastern Canada.

Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Oct. 19, a weather station on Cape Race, Newfoundland reported a sustained wind of 41 mph (67 kph) and a gust of 55 mph (89 kph). St. Johns Newfoundland recently reported a wind gust of 45 mph (72 kph).

At 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 19, Gonzalo was still a hurricane over the cold waters of the north Atlantic. A tropical storm watch is effect for Arnolds Cove to Chapels Cove, Newfoundland, Canada.

.On Sunday, Oct. 19 at 8 a.m. EDT, Gonzalo's center was near latitude 47.6 north and longitude 50.1 west. NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured a visible image of the storm on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1145 UTC (7:45 a.m. EDT) that showed it in the North Atlantic, blanketing eastern Canada and stretching east over open waters. At that time, Gonzalo was moving toward the northeast near 52 mph (83 mph). Gonzalo moved quickly away from Newfoundland into the North Atlantic. Maximum sustained winds were near 85 mph (140 kph) and gradual weakening was forecast.

Just three hours later the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image that showed Hurricane Gonzalo had moved more than 150 miles further east from Newfoundland, Canada than when the GOES image was taken.

On Oct. 19 effects from Gonzalo were still being felt in many places because of dangerous ocean conditions. Large swells, now waning, were affecting the Virgin Islands, the northern coasts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, portions of the Bahamas, portions of the United States east coast, Bermuda and Atlantic Canada.

By Sunday night Gonzalo and become an extra-tropical cyclone with a cold core center (instead of a warm center like a tropical cyclone) as the National Hurricane Center expected.

Gonzalo is expected to affect Scotland on Tuesday, October 21 as an extra-tropical storm, packing heavy rains and gusty winds.

On Monday, Oct. 20, the U.K. Meteorological Service issued a National Severe Weather Warning for the U.K.: "The remains of Hurricane Gonzalo are running across the Atlantic, reaching the UK on Monday night, bringing a period of strong winds to the U.K. The strongest winds are expected on Tuesday as the low pressure clears eastwards; some uncertainty remains in peak windspeeds but there remains the potential for disruption to travel, especially as the strongest winds coincide with the morning rush hour in places. Fallen leaves impeding drainage increases the risk of surface water affecting roads, while some damage to trees is possible, given that many are still in full leaf." For updated warnings from the U.K. Met Service, visit: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk.

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Rob Gutro

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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