HAMILTON, Bermuda: Officials warned residents to stay off roads and prepare for possible tornadoes as Hurricane Humberto strengthened in approaching the Atlantic archipelago, prompting people to board up homes and businesses.
Hurricane-force winds and rains were expected to hit Bermuda by Wednesday night, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said, although forecasts showed the islands could be spared a direct hit.
On Wednesday afternoon, the storm's eye was located to the west of the archipelago, which lies about 1,046 kilometres east of the United States.
The storm packed 193 kilometres per hour winds and was moving at 26 kilometres per hour. It was a category three hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, the NHC said.
Flights have been canceled from Bermuda's main airport and some residents covered windows with wooden planks and metal sheeting in Hamilton, the capital.
National Disaster Coordinator Steve Cosham warned that the storm could topple trees and tear down power lines, while tornadoes could damage buildings.
Officials ended government ferry services and will close a major road leading to the airport at 6.00pm local time. They also opened a shelter at a high school with room for 100 people.
Schools were closed and ambulances on standby, a witness said.
The Atlantic storm season has picked up pace in recent weeks.
The Bahamas is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, and the remnants of tropical depression Imelda have moved inland across the Gulf coast of Texas and southeastern Louisiana as it weakened, bringing warnings of flash floods and heavy rains.