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Tropical Storm Leslie slowly moves past Bermuda

HAMILTON, Bermuda – Tropical Storm Leslie's outer bands buffeted Bermuda with gusty winds and rain Sunday as it slowly edged past the wary British enclave on a path that was expected to take it to Canada's Newfoundland later in the week.

A satellite image shows Hurricane Leslie churning in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda on Wednesday. Leslie is projected to pass east of Bermuda on Sunday afternoon or evening. AFP/Getty Images

A satellite image shows Hurricane Leslie churning in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda on Wednesday. Leslie is projected to pass east of Bermuda on Sunday afternoon or evening.

AFP/Getty Images

A satellite image shows Hurricane Leslie churning in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda on Wednesday. Leslie is projected to pass east of Bermuda on Sunday afternoon or evening.

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 gradually spun 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, 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 ago 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 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.

Bermuda was forecast to get from two to four inches of rain from Leslie.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had weakened slightly early Sunday, and it maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Tropical storm winds extended up to 195 miles from its center. By late afternoon, it was about 175 miles east-northeast of Bermuda and moving north at 14 mph.

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 90 mph 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 moving slowly toward the west at 5 mph. It was expected to take a turn to the northwest and then north-northwest Monday. It was forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Tuesday.

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