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18 October 2012 09:36
Hurricane Igor, which struck in 2010. Experts warn tropical storm Rafael is nearing hurricane strength
In the central Atlantic, storm Rafael has been gathering strength and is approaching hurricane level as it nears Bermuda, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported. Over the weekend, winds reached up to 70 mph. The epicentre of the storm was some 290 miles (465 km) north-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is spreading towards the northwest at 10 mph.
Experts believe the storm is due to arrive in Bermuda this week. Residents have been warned to be on their guard after the region was put on special alert, with the storm due within two days. Locals have also been advised of dangerous surfing conditions caused by strong currents.
It is thought the storm will result in rainfall of four to eight inches in the Leeward Islands, with some areas receiving up to 12 inches. The Virgin Islands, Culebra and Vieques are set to see up to three inches of rain, meteorologists said. "These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain," the centre warned. People due to travel to the affected areas are advised to consult their
travel insurance providers in case of any holiday disruption.
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