Image: Beached boat
Gerry Broome  /  AP
The excursion boat "Bermudian" was pushed to shore by Hurricane Igor on Monday in St. George, Bermuda.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/20/2010 5:50:48 PM ET 2010-09-20T21:50:48

Hurricane Igor kicked up dangerous surf along the eastern U.S. seaboard Monday after brushing past Bermuda and knocking out power to a large share of the population.

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The storm, already blamed for sweeping three people to their deaths, clung to hurricane status with winds of 75 mph as it sped away from the United States on a path projected to take it close by Newfoundland, Canada, on Tuesday.

In this tiny British Atlantic territory, the storm toppled trees and utility poles as its center passed 40 miles to the west overnight. Several boats ran aground, including a ferry, The Bermudian, that is used to bring cruise ship passengers to shore. No major damage or injuries were reported.

By Monday afternoon, the hurricane's center was about 350 miles north-northeast of Bermuda and moving to the northeast at 36 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the coast of Newfoundland, where people were urged to prepare for possible flooding and power outages.

The Canadian company Husky Energy began evacuating workers from two semi-submersible drill rigs working the White Rose offshore oilfield, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

Igor was not a direct threat to the United States, but forecasters said it would cause high surf and dangerous rip currents.

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A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, N.C., where he was pulled from the water on Sunday afternoon. Last week, the high surf kicked up by Igor swept two people out to sea in the Caribbean — one in Puerto Rico and another in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Weather Service in New York City said Igor was likely to churn up breaking waves of 6 to 10 feet Monday while passing about 600 miles from the eastern tip of Long Island. A high surf advisory was issued for the city through Tuesday morning.

Bermuda's power utility reported that roughly 28,700 customers lost electricity on the British territory of 68,000 inhabitants. It said approximately half the island was without power.

In Mangrove Bay at the island's western end, two sailboats were driven onto the shore, their masts leading against trees. A fishing vessel also ran aground nearby with a large hole in its side. The cruise ship ferry ran aground near the town of St. George.

But islanders said the impact did not compare with Hurricane Fabian, which killed four people when it hit Bermuda as a Category 3 hurricane in 2003.

"This was a powder puff compared to Fabian," Claude Wright, 67, said as he surveyed the damage.

Richard Simons, who rents out cottages near Elbow Beach, said he found only downed branches on his property Monday morning.

"It will just take some sweeping and raking to clean up," he said.

Officials said schools would be closed Monday and Tuesday, and a local newspaper canceled its Monday edition.

'Getting our money's worth'
There were no early reports of major damage, although power was out in many areas and communications were spotty.

"We're certainly getting our money's worth in drama," lawyer James Dodi said while standing outside a downtown hotel in Hamilton watching Igor's winds whip through palm trees and howl around buildings Sunday night.

Dodi, 43, a native of Toronto who moved from Canada six years ago, left his Hamilton home and took refuge at the hotel.

Hurricane expert Jeff Masters, of private U.S. forecaster Weather Underground, said Igor lost some of its original destructive power due to the collapse of its eyewall — a hurricane's most damaging inner zone — earlier on Sunday.

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Wild wind
Before Igor arrived, some storm-seasoned Bermudans ventured outside to marvel as 15-foot surf crashed ashore, even through the government warned people to stay indoors, keeping in mind that the high surf kicked up by Igor earlier swept two people out to sea in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, far to the south.

School principal Marion Dyer, 47, said she holed up with her 8-year-old daughter and two others after losing power around dawn Sunday, when Igor's outer bands began severely whipping Bermuda.

"Now and again we get bursts of wild wind which sends the rain in all directions," Dyer wrote in an e-mail to an Associated Press reporter. "We have heard several rolls of thunder which are becoming more frequent."

While many tourists hopped on flights home before the airport closed Saturday, Elaine and Brian LaFleur of New Bedford, Massachusetts, said they actually moved up their arrival so they would be here when Igor hit. They wanted a new experience for their 28th trip to the island.

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"We've done everything else on this island, but we've never experienced a hurricane," said Elaine LaFleur, 62.

In Mexico, authorities said Monday that at least 16 people were killed in flooding and mudslides as Hurricane Karl hit the southern part of the country Friday. Looting was reported in parts of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, with people carrying bags of food out of stores in waist-deep water.

Karl appeared to have spared Mexican oil operations from major damage after sweeping through the Bay of Campeche, where Mexico produces more than two-thirds of its 2.55 million barrels per day of crude output.

Also in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Julia was beginning to fizzle as it swirled about 1,100 west of the Azores with maximum sustained winds near 45 mph.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Hurricane Igor pounds Bermuda

  1. Transcript of: Hurricane Igor pounds Bermuda

    ANN CURRY, co-host: But let's begin with the damage caused by Hurricane Igor in Bermuda overnight.

    The Weather Channel 's Jim Catorenow joins from Elbow Beach . Jim , good morning. What's the latest from there?

    JIM CANTORE reporting: Well, Ann , we're just getting some in breaking news in here. At 7 AM the Royal Police reporting no reports of major injuries or loss of live here on the island. Obviously that is great news; however, there's lots of trees and debris all over the roads and all across the island this morning. Some 30,000 of the 35,000-plus customers here are reported to have no power this morning. That's not surprising, given the tremendous shellacking we took last night with about 24 hours of tropical storm -force winds. The highest wind gusts reported at the airport was 93 miles an hour . And the big question is: What is the word on the airport? How did it make it through this storm? What type of shape is the causeway in that leads to the airport? All of that is still being determined this morning. But the most visible sign certainly of Igor 's presence was the tremendous amount of beach erosion here. We're talking about 15 to 30 feet of beach lost as a result of one of the largest storms ever in the Atlantic Basin history. Back to you.

    CURRY: All right, Jim Catorethis morning. Jim , thanks so much from The Weather Channel .

    LAUER: Al Roker is tracking Igor as well. He's upstairs with more. Al , good morning to you.

    AL ROKER reporting: Well, good morning, Matt. And the latest, right now it's 135 miles north of Bermuda . This thing's moving pretty quickly. Winds at 75 miles per hour , down to a Category 1 storm, moving north/northeast at 20 miles per hour . At one point, just 17 miles away from Bermuda . Well, for us the big problem is going to be the rip current . We've got dangerous rip currents stretching from West Palm Beach all the way to Cape Cod , six to 12-foot waves from the Carolinas all the way into New England . In fact, yesterday in Florida , they had 30 beach rescues just there alone. And it's going to be even worse today. Now the path of Igor takes it way off, maybe brushing Nova Scotia , not a big problem. But we're not out of the woods yet as far as the hurricane season is concerned. We are watching development of a low pressure area about 400 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands . Could become a tropical depression and in the next few days could become Tropical Storm Lisa . So we continue to track what's going on in the Atlantic . Matt :

    LAUER: And we'll get your local forecast in just a couple of minutes. Al Roker , thanks very much. Welcome back.

Photos: Hurricane Igor moves onto Bermuda

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  1. Storm Gibbons shields her face from the wind and rain produced by Hurricane Igor as she ventures out into the storm in Somerset Village, Bermuda, Sunday, Sept. 19. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Wind and rain batter the trees and boats in Mangrove Bay, Bermuda, Sept. 19. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Seth Gibbons lies in standing water at Somerset Village in Bermuda on Sept. 19. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Waves crash onto the beach at John Smith's Bay in Smith's Parish as Hurricane Igor approaches in Bermuda, Saturday, Sept. 18. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Randy Fernandez removes the glass from lights to prevent breakage at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess as Hurricane Igor approaches in Hamilton, Bermuda, Sept. 18. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Waves crash onto a motorist pushing a moped at John Smith's Bay on Sept. 18. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. People look out over the Atlantic Ocean as Hurricane Igor approaches in Bermuda on Sept. 18. (Gerry Broome / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. This image provided by NASA shows an image taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station of the eye of Hurricane Igor at 11:56 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The storm at the time was a Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale of intensity. The storm has since been downgraded to a Category 1. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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