Bermuda Braces as Hurricane Leslie Approaches

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National Weather Service National Hurricane Center issues a probable path graphic forecast for Hurricane Leslie on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 11AM.

By Lateef Mungin, CNN

(CNN) — Officials in Bermuda urged residents to “prepare for the worst ” as Hurricane Leslie headed towards the British territory bringing with it powerful winds and heavy rains.

Bermuda has closed public schools for Friday and is making preparations for the approaching storm.

“Leslie could be a historic storm for Bermuda as it is very large and forecast to intensify rapidly as it approaches,” Bermuda’s Emergency Measures Organization said in a statement. “The island could experience hurricane force winds for a sustained period of time, possibly up to two days.”

The Category 1 storm was about 440 miles (705 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda, moving north at 2 mph (4 kph) early Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), the hurricane center said.

It could become a Category 2 hurricane, packing winds of more than 96 mph, by Friday, the hurricane center said.

Forecasters predict it could affect Bermuda this weekend.

Another hurricane, Michael, formed late Wednesday in the eastern Atlantic. By early Thursday, it had become the first major hurricane of the season as it had strengthened to a Category 3, with winds of near 115 mph.

Michael is the seventh hurricane of the 2012 season but posed no immediate threat to land, the hurricane center.