Hurricane Florence churns past Bermuda

Hurricane Florence blew out windows, peeled away at least three roofs and knocked out power to thousands in Bermuda on Monday before churning past the wealthy British island chain and heading out over open ocean.

As the whirling eye of the storm traveled away from the archipelago of tiny islands, the lashing winds and surge of seawater that threatened the storm-tested territory were expected to reduce in intensity by late afternoon. Authorities said there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

But tourists remained hunkered down inside resort hotels and officials urged all islanders to stay at home until the second hurricane of the Atlantic season no longer posed a danger. Tropical-force storm winds and strong bands of rain were expected to affect the British territory until 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT), local forecasters said.

"The storm has passed its closest point of approach. It looks like the worst is over," Kimberly Zuill, meteorologist with the Bermuda Weather Service, said Monday afternoon.

At least 23,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday, according to Bermuda's electric company.

Some people were unfazed by the latest storm to hit the island chain, which enforces strict building codes to withstand rough weather.

"We're still serving breakfast and everything is normal," said Rowena Smith, an employee at The Reefs, a cliffside resort on the vulnerable south shore. About 50 guests checked out early Saturday, but more than 80 stayed to ride out the storm at the hotel, reports AP.

"They're in high spirits. We have a lot of repeaters in house, and they're having fun," Smith said.

The center of the Category 1 hurricane, which had maximum sustained winds near 90 mph (145 kph), was about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north-northwest of Bermuda at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Florence was moving toward the north-northeast at roughly 14 mph (22 kph).

Large waves were expected along Bermuda's coastline until evening, the hurricane center said.