Sept 18 (Reuters) - Hurricane Humberto gained strength and speed as it moved closer to Bermuda early Wednesday but the islands are likely to be spared a direct hit, forecasters said.
Hurricane force winds and rains are expected to hit Bermuda by Wednesday night but the storm’s eye is just shy of the archipelago’s western coast, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The storm packed 115 mph (185 kph) winds and it was about 285 miles (455 km) west of Bermuda, moving at 16 mph (26 kph) at 5 a.m. on Wednesday. It is a category 3 hurricane on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, the NHC said.
A hurricane warning is in effect for Bermuda and Humberto’s hurricane force winds extend more than 60 miles from its center, with at least 6 inches of rain expected through Thursday.
Northwestern Bahamas is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. It is forecast to have life-threatening tides and waves through the next few days, as will parts of the U.S. coast from Central Florida to North Carolina.
As Humberto was gathering strength, the remnants of tropical depression Imelda moved inland across the Gulf coast of Texas and southeastern Louisiana, bringing warnings of flash floods and heavy rains.
Intense rain bands were already sweeping the Houston area, bringing up to seven inches (18 cm) of rain, with another three-to-five inches or more predicted through Thursday, said Zack Taylor, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
“The weather will worsen as the day goes on,” Taylor said. “There are already reports of creeks overflowing, and there is a high risk of flash floods.”
Some parts of east Texas could see a total of 18 inches of rain including the Houston and Galveston areas before the storm weakens and moves into the eastern Plains, forecasters said.
Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Timothy Heritage