Bermuda readies itself as Florence expected to become a hurricane

People across Bermuda installed storm shutters, hauled their yachts onto beaches and boarded up the airport in preparation for Tropical Storm Florence, which intensified Saturday and was expected to become a hurricane as it nears the North Atlantic island.

Florence, which could become a hurricane as it moves over the open Atlantic later Saturday, was expected to reach the tiny British territory Monday, according to forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, though it was too early to tell whether it will make a direct hit.

"What's important is there's a hurricane that's moving very near and possibly over Bermuda so those people need to be making arrangements to protect life and property," said Jamie Rhome, a hurricane specialist at the center.

Bermuda has issued a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning, and the government urged its 65,000 residents to take precautions, reports AP.

"The public is encouraged to stock up on normal hurricane supplies and to secure their homes, lawn furniture and any other loose items which could be affected by high winds," said Derrick Burgess, minister of public safety.

The island's only airport, Bermuda International Airport, will close at 10 p.m. AST (0100 GMT) and was not expected to reopen until late Tuesday at the earliest, said General Manager Aaron Adderley. Flights from New York and Miami scheduled to arrive late Saturday have been canceled.

"The schedule is to suspend operations from 10 p.m. tonight. That will provide our personnel enough time to secure the airport and terminal building," he said, adding that staff were boarding up the airport and laying sand bags since the site was located right next to the ocean.