HAMILTON, Bermuda – Tropical Storm Leslie churned northward early Sunday on a path expected to take it to the east of Bermuda, possibly as a weak hurricane.
With it seeming less likely for a near miss, the British territory's government pulled back on some of its storm preparations Saturday, but warned residents to keep alert in case of changes in Leslie.
The Bermuda Weather Service said forecasts pointed to the storm staying about 200 miles to the east Sunday as it headed toward the northern Atlantic.
"Bermuda seems to have escaped the worst of Tropical Storm Leslie," Wayne Perinchief, the national security minister, said Saturday.
But, he added, "I urge the public to remain cautious." He said strong winds and rain could occur.
The government did drop plans to close the airport, although major airlines already canceled flights. Officials also decided not to open an emergency shelter but said the facility was ready in case it was needed.
Bermuda, a financial haven and tourist destination about 600 miles off the U.S. East Coast, has strong building codes and its people are used to storms.
"I have taken precautions," said Gareth Kerr, 29. "The windows have the shutters across and I got supplies such as water and tinned food. If the weather is bad tomorrow I'll just sit indoors."
James Dodgson, a forecaster for the Bermuda Weather Service, cautioned that even with the storm likely to stay well offshore, there would be a chance of some flooding. He said a probable small storm surge of one or two feet could combine with high tide Sunday to cause minor flooding in low-lying areas.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that late Saturday, the storm was maintaining top sustained winds of 65 mph, below the hurricane threshold of 74 mph.
Leslie was about 200 miles southeast of Bermuda and was moving north at 8 mph. The U.S. center said some strengthening was expected and Leslie could regain hurricane strength Sunday or Sunday night.
Far out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael remained a category 2 storm but slowed a bit to maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was not considered any threat to land. For a few hours Thursday, it was the first Category 3 of the Atlantic hurricane season.
Michael was moving north-northwest at 6 mph. It was about 920 miles west-southwest of the Azores.