Nicole weakened on Thursday afternoon as it moved into the open sea after making a direct hit on Bermuda as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.The storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 kph), was still a strong Category 2 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and capable of causing extensive damage.ABC News said the storm had snapped trees, peeled off roofs, flooded homes, damaged boats and knocked out power to more than 27,000 customers across Bermuda.By late afternoon, the storm was 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Bermuda but a still a threat to the British overseas territory that is a major insurance and reinsurance center.
"A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by asmuch as 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) to above normal tide levels in Bermuda," warned the Miami-based hurricane center in its latest advisory.
"The surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves. The storm surge should subside this evening," it added.
Bermuda, with a population of almost 66,000, is often in the paths of Atlantic storms and has extensive experience in handling them. (Reporting by Sandra Maler in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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