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Hurricane Gonzalo made landfall along the coast Bermuda on Friday, toppling power lines and cutting electricity to nearly everyone in the British territory, with forecasters warning of significant damage ahead and life-threatening storm surge. The powerful Category 2 storm was lashing the British territory with fierce wind and rough surf that could raise coastal seas as much as 10 feet. The National Hurricane Center said the storm, which was packing sustained winds at 110 mph, was expected to gain speed through Saturday. It was barreling north-northeast at 16 mph and was expected to hammer Bermuda for hours during the night.
Michael Durrant, who lives with his family just outside Bermuda’s capital, Hamilton, told NBC News he saw the eye of the storm pass over the island. “The entire neighborhood was pitch black,” Durrant said. “Probably the whole island is in the dark right now.” Meanwhile, Nick Inghamn, another resident, told NBC News he expected to “be up for a while” as fierce, loud winds battered the island.
A "dangerous and life-threatening storm surge" will be accompanied by large and destructive waves, with swells generated by Gonzalo hitting portions of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and the U.S. east coast and expected to cause life-threatening rip-current conditions, the National Weather Service added.
Bermuda's electric company said approximately 30,700 customers — roughly 85% of the population — were without power, out of approximately 36,000 metered connections. The company, Belco, said it was not safe to dispatch crews to restore power, but it said it had crews on standby “for emergency calls only.”
Gonzalo reached Category 4 status with 145 mph sustained winds, making it the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Basin since Hurricane Igor in September 2010, according to The Weather Channel, which warned that significant structural damage is expected for Bermuda. "Power will likely be out to all of the island for days and possibly weeks in some areas," it said.
For Durrant, who lit a kerosene lamp and a few candles as he and his family listened to the radio for updates Friday night, the excitement of the storm had passed. "I am pretty much bored," he said.