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Tropical storm Gabrielle nears Bermuda after it reforms in Atlantic

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HAMILTON, Bermuda — A strengthening tropical storm Gabrielle brought gusty winds, rain and rough surf to Bermuda on Tuesday as it approached the wealthy British territory after reforming over the Atlantic.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was centred about 90 kilometres south of Bermuda late Tuesday afternoon and was moving northward with maximum sustained winds of 95 kph. It was expected to pass over or near Bermuda late Tuesday.

Government authorities urged people in the storm-hardened Atlantic territory to finish last-minute preparations, and some residents left work early. Supermarkets were crowded with customers buying candles, batteries and other emergency supplies.

"Gabrielle has proven somewhat unpredictable and so I caution everyone to take this storm seriously and to prepare for the forecast conditions," Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said.

The territory suspended ferry service as wind and rain picked up, and several flights were cancelled.

British visitors Tom and Laura Palmer said they were stuck in Bermuda until Thursday because British Airways cancelled inbound and outbound flights to the island until the stormy weather cleared.

"We don’t mind staying a few more days despite the weather," said Tom Palmer, a resident of Crawley, England. British Airways "are paying, so we’re fine."

Local painter Coolridge Eve said he was mostly unconcerned about the approaching storm but he had earlier checked a shark oil-based barometer that Bermudians traditionally use to gauge rough weather.

"I looked at my shark oil this morning; it told me something was brewing up. How close it is, I don’t really know, but I’m ready," Eve said.

Bermuda, an offshore financial haven and tourist destination, has strong building codes and residents are accustomed to storms.

U.S. forecasters said Gabrielle was likely to bring some 13 centimetres of rain to Bermuda. Storm surge of up to nearly 1 metre above normal tide levels was also predicted.

Some slight strengthening was possible over the next two days as Gabrielle moved over open waters, according to U.S. forecasters.

Farther east out in the Atlantic, tropical storm Humberto was nearly a hurricane as its maximum sustained winds increased to near 110 kph. It currently poses no threat to land.

— The Associated Press

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