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HAMILTON, Bermuda — Doors and windows began to rattle across Bermuda early Thursday as Hurricane Nicole approached the British territory as an extremely dangerous Category 3 hurricane.
The storm was located about 55 miles (85 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda Thursday morning. It had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and was moving north-northeast at 15 mph (24 kph).
Nicole is expected to pass just a couple of miles east of Bermuda late Thursday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Initially, the eye of the hurricane, which at one point was bigger than Bermuda itself, was supposed to go directly over the island, said James Dodgson, deputy director at the Bermuda Weather Service.
"We were hopeful that it would come across so we could at least get a break," he said in a phone interview.
Instead, Bermuda will now be hit for a longer period of time by winds west of the Nicole's eye, he added.
The hurricane had strengthened to a Category 4 storm late Wednesday but lost some steam overnight. However, forecasters warned that it was still extremely dangerous.
"While hurricanes often affect Bermuda, a hurricane this strong is rare," the National Hurricane Center said.
Power outages were reported on Thursday as at least one transformer exploded in Bermuda, which has sturdy infrastructure and is accustomed to storms.
The government had closed schools and government offices on Wednesday as businesses boarded up.
"I'm comfortable with the resources we have in hand to deal with this storm," Premier Michael Dunkley said. "I have every faith that the people of Bermuda will rally together after the storm."
Hundreds of people had rushed to shops and gas stations for last-minute preparations as rain and wind began to batter Bermuda on Wednesday.
Those at home made last-minute preparations for what lay ahead, with resident Danni Joell saying she was "cooking up a storm" in the kitchen with her son, Tyler.
"So far we've made an apple pie, and there are some cookies in the oven," she said. "Hopefully we will have enough to gets us through."
American Airlines and Air Canada are among several carriers that have canceled flights to the island, and several cruise ships have canceled trips as well.