UPDATE 5-Eye of weakening Hurricane Gonzalo smashes into Bermuda
(Adds arrival of Gonzalo)
By Sam Strangeways
HAMILTON, Bermuda Oct 17 (Reuters) - The eyewall of Hurricane Gonzalo made a direct hit on Bermuda on Friday evening pounding the Bermuda coast with high waves, driving rain and gusting winds, becoming the strongest storm to hit the tiny Atlantic island chain in a decade, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
"At least part of the island, if not the entire island, is going to be in the eye," said hurricane center specialist Stacy Stewart. "It's a very large eye."
Gonzalo was swirling about 40 miles (65 km) southwest of the British islands with sustained winds of 115 miles per hour (185 kph), down from 140 miles per hour earlier in the day, the forecasters said.
The northern wall of the 35-mile wide eye of Gonzalo hit Bermuda shortly before 6 p.m. EDT, with hurricane force winds extending up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center.
The low-lying archipelago has a total area of only 21 square miles (54 sq km).
Gonzalo peaked on Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane with 145 mph winds (230 kph), and is expected to continue weakening throughout Friday and into the weekend.
Bermuda, a tourist destination and affluent insurance industry hub about 640 miles (1030 km) off the U.S. east coast, is still recovering from Tropical Storm Fay, which swept over the islands early on Sunday with near hurricane-force winds of 70 mph (110 kph). Continuación...