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Leslie, now a hurricane, moving toward Bermuda

Hurricane Leslie: Bermuda hotels and cruise ships are preparing for the arrival of hurricane Leslie this weekend.

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The projected track for hurricane Leslie, as of 5 a.m Thursday, takes it close to Bermuda. The hurricane is Category 1 (above 75 mph winds) but is forecast to strengthen to a Category 2 (above 90 mph).

National Hurricane Center

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Hurricane Leslie is moving slowly toward Bermuda, gathering strength, and is expected to arrive by late Saturday or early Sunday.

The Category 1 hurricane is forecast to strengthen to Category 2 – and possibly Category 3 – by the weekend.

A Category 2 storm has winds exceeding 90 miles per hour.

Bermuda is a popular cruise ship destination, but with the approach of Leslie, cruise ship companies are making alternate plans. The Norwegian Dawn, which was due to arrive Sunday, is now planning to go to the Bahamas instead, reports the Bermuda Sun. Bermuda hotels are advising current guests to leave the island by Friday. Some hotels have reported weekend cancellations by guests.

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Wayne Perinchief, Bermuda's minister of national security, urged residents to begin their own preparations.  “Residents should heed all warnings and advisories ... which includes staying out of the ocean and staying indoors once the storm starts to impact the island,” Perinchief said.

Leslie is centered about 440 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and is moving north near 1 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center 5 a.m. EDT report. The hurricane center's next update is at 11 a.m.

Leslie is a big storm and getting bigger.

Currently, hurricane force winds (above 75 miles per hour) extend outward up to 25 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 195 miles, says the National Hurricane Center report.

High surf and swells from Leslie are already affecting the U.S. East Coast, as well as Bermuda, the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The swells could cause life-threatening surf and rip currents, warns the hurricane center. 

Meanwhile, Hurricane Michael, further out in the Atlantic Ocean, has strengthened to a Category 3 storm, the first one of the Atlantic hurricane season. But Michael is not headed toward land.

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