Tropical Storm Leslie slowly moves past Bermuda, bound for Canada

HAMILTON, Bermuda Sun Sep 9, 2012 5:47pm EDT

1 of 3. Hurricane Leslie (C) and Hurricane Michael (R) are seen in this NOAA handout satellite image taken September 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/NOAA/Handout

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Leslie churned east of Bermuda on Sunday, buffeting the island with stiff winds and rain and heading on a path that may carry it to Canada's easternmost province of Newfoundland.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect across Bermuda, where forecasters warned hazardous surf and rip currents were expected to continue through Monday.

Most flights in and out of the island were canceled on Sunday. Bus and ferry services were suspended.

At 5:00 p.m. (2100 GMT) Leslie was 175 miles east-northeast of the British territory, heading north at 14 miles per hour with the center of the storm beginning to move away from the island, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It had sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and could strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane over the open Atlantic on Tuesday with winds reaching 75 miles per hour.

An affluent island home to some 65,000 people and a global reinsurance center, Bermuda has strict building codes and is well-prepared for storms that sweep across the Atlantic during the June-through-November hurricane season.

As Leslie pushes north, swells generated by the storm are expected to affect parts of the U.S. East Coast, the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Forecast models show Leslie may approach Canada's Newfoundland on Tuesday as a full-blown hurricane.

Farther out in the Atlantic, Hurricane Michael was downgraded to a Category 1 storm. Michael, the first Category 3 storm of the Atlantic season, had sustained winds of 90 mph on Sunday and was forecast to become a tropical storm by Tuesday, the hurricane center said. It does not pose a threat to land.

Forecasters were also watching a low pressure trough located about 200 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. The hurricane center gave it a medium chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours, saying conditions were marginally favorable for it to develop.

(Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stacey Joyce)

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