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Tropical Storm Leslie brushes past Bermuda

This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 at 10:45 a.m. EDT shows Tropical Storm Leslie, with maximum winds of 60 mph, moving northward on the east side of Bermuda. Tropical storm conditions on the island should diminish by this evening. Hurricane Michael is far out to sea with maximum winds of 90 mph slowly westward. It is expected to slowly weaken over the next 24 hours. This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 at 10:45 a.m. EDT shows Tropical Storm Leslie, with maximum winds of 60 mph, moving northward on the east side of Bermuda. Tropical storm conditions on the island should diminish by this evening. Hurricane Michael is far out to sea with maximum winds of 90 mph slowly westward. It is expected to slowly weaken over the next 24 hours. (AP Photo/Weather Underground)
By Elizabeth Roberts
Associated Press / September 9, 2012
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HAMILTON, Bermuda—Tropical Storm Leslie's outer bands buffeted Bermuda with gusty winds and rain, swirling to the east of the British enclave Sunday and then heading on a path expected to take it to Canada's Newfoundland later in the week.

The government reopened the L.F. Wade International Airport in the early evening after keeping it closed for most of the day due to tropical storm winds. Major airlines already had canceled flights to the British Atlantic territory of about 65,000 inhabitants.

As Leslie moved away from Bermuda into the northern Atlantic, the Bermuda Police Service said there were no reports of any major damage or injuries. Bus services resumed.

But scattered power outages affected hundreds of customers during the day, and some roads were littered with tree branches and other debris. At least one street pole fell in central Hamilton.

Government officials were breathing a sigh of relief since Leslie had several days earlier been forecast to be a Category 2 hurricane as it passed Bermuda, possibly as a direct strike.

"Despite a few power outages and cancelled flights it will be business as usual tomorrow. I would ask the public to remain cautious as there may be loose tree limbs and debris, and the ocean is still dangerous for swimming," said National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief.

Schools will not hold classes Monday, and sea ferry services were suspended while the fleet and docks are inspected.

Most residents of Bermuda, a financial haven and tourist destination about 600 miles (965 kilometers) off the U.S. East Coast, were taking the effects of the storm in stride. The territory has tough building codes and its people are used to strong storms.

"It's an excuse for a lazy day at home," said Natasha Hector, a resident of Bermuda's Southampton parish who is originally from Oxfordshire, England.

Tia Smith hunkered down at home Sunday in Hamilton parish with her husband, Tim; 5-year-old daughter, Willow; and 1-year-old son, Rowan. She said they dutifully prepared for a hurricane in recent days.

"Just a quiet day of movies and board games for us," she said.

Philippa Raven, who is visiting from London, said she was enjoying watching the storm from her friends' hilltop home.

"It's a good view and it's quite nice just watching it outside when you are cozy inside," said Raven, who arrived in Bermuda on Thursday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) late Sunday as it moved away from Bermuda. It was about 225 miles (365 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda and moving north-northeast at 16 mph (26 kph).

U.S. forecasters said Leslie could regain hurricane strength Tuesday over open ocean as it was expected to approach Newfoundland.

As Leslie moves northward, swells kicked up by the storm will affect Bermuda, the U.S. East Coast, the Canadian Maritimes, the northern Leeward Islands and the U.S. Caribbean territories for the next couple of days.

Far out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael was a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of about 85 mph (140 kph), 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 1,020 miles (1,640 kilometers) west-southwest of the Azores and was moving west at 6 mph (9 kph). It was forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday.

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Associated Press writer David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica, contributed to this report.

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