HAMILTON, Bermuda – A tropical storm warning was issued for the Massachusetts coast Saturday as waves from Hurricane Bill pounded Bermuda and people from Florida to New England braced for high surf and rip currents from the storm.
Bill scattered palm tree debris, coral and pink sand across Bermuda roads Saturday, causing sporadic power outages and some minor flooding on the island but no major damage.
Bill had winds of 105 mph as it skirted Bermuda and squeezed between the island and the East Coast of the U.S. The storm brought heavy bands of rain and big waves to Bermuda, stirring its typically crystal clear waters.
Residents along the East Coast were warned about high surf and rip currents.
A tropical storm warning was in place for parts of Massachusetts, and forecasters said the storm could regain intensity over open waters this weekend.
In Bermuda, the storm mostly spared the pink shores. Residents and tourists awoke to some water on the roads, rain and gusting winds.
"It was something to behold. I've never been in a hurricane before," said Kenny Mayne, 50, of Connecticut. Mayne has been on vacation in Bermuda for about a week with his two daughters. He hopes to head back to the U.S. on Sunday.
At 8 a.m. EDT Saturday, the center of Bill was about 235 miles west-northwest of Bermuda and about 410 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The tropical storm warning included Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, meaning tropical storm-force winds of 40 mph or more could hit in the next 24 hours.
A tropical storm warning also remained in effect for Bermuda.
Many tourists shrugged off the threat of the approaching storm, but it apparently cut short a vacation for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters the Clintons left Bermuda on Thursday night.
On Friday night, the streets of Bermuda's capital were mostly empty and blanketed with rain. Luxury boutiques boarded up their windows. At the bar of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel, a few guests sampled the "Dark 'n Stormy" cocktail as Bill's outer bands raked the island.
Most islanders hunkered down in their homes. Amanda Walker, a 31-year-old waitress originally from Toronto, said she and her boyfriend had to track down her cat, Mira, before the winds got any stronger.
"We just need to lock ourselves in and hope for the best," she said.
Some roads along Bermuda's northern coast were flooded and traffic was heavy in Hamilton, the capital. The airport, which is accessible only by a low causeway bridge, announced it was closing Friday for the duration of the storm. All ferry service was canceled until Sunday.
Bill was forecast to bring 1 to 2 inches of rain to Bermuda, with up to 5 inches in some areas.
Much of Bermuda, a wealthy offshore financial center, is solidly built and able to withstand rough weather. But storm tides were expected to raise water levels up to 3 feet along the shores and battering waves could cause significant erosion.
Despite warning signs at Bermuda's beaches, tourists gathered to watch waves pummel the sand and wash up to the dunes at Horseshoe Bay.
"We've never experienced a hurricane before, so it's very interesting. The children are loving it," said Kevin James, 54, a pharmaceutical company executive from London, who watched with his wife and two young children.
On the U.S. East Coast, offshore waves of 20 feet or more and rip currents at the beach were expected during one of the summer's last weekends. Forecasters warned boaters and swimmers from northeastern Florida to New England of incoming swells as Bill passes far out to sea on a northward track toward Canada's Maritime Provinces.
North Carolina expected flooding and beach erosion on the Outer Banks. The Three Belles Marina in Niantic, Conn., was securing boats and dragging in docks in anticipation of high waters.
President Barack Obama and his family plan to travel to Martha's Vineyard on Sunday for vacation.
Bill was the first Atlantic hurricane this year after a quiet start to the season that runs from June through November. The National Hurricane Center in Miami lowered its Atlantic hurricane outlook Aug. 6 after no named tropical storms developed in the first two months.
The revised prediction was for three to six hurricanes, with one or two becoming major storms with winds over 110 mph. Researchers at Colorado State University have also lowered their Atlantic season forecast to four hurricanes, two of them major.