MIAMI (AP) — Hurricane Bill howled over the open Atlantic as a dangerous
Category 4 storm Wednesday, and it could be energized by warmer waters as it
moves north.

Forecasters said Bill should begin pushing large swells toward Bermuda and
parts of the southeastern U.S. coast by the weekend, but it wasn’t yet clear how
close the storm will come to land.

The National Hurricane Center also said people in the Leeward Islands should
keep an eye on the storm, though its core was expected to pass well to the
northeast of the chain in the next 24 hours. Fishermen in Antigua were advised
to dock their boats.

As strong as Bill already is, it could get stronger because it’s traveling
into warmer waters in the Atlantic that could intensify the storm, said senior
hurricane specialist Lixion Avila.

“The warm ocean is like the fuel for car,” Avila said Wednesday. “If you get
high octane gas you get more power — that’s what warmer water does.”

Bill was maintaining a top wind speed of 135 mph Wednesday, hours after it
became a Category 4 storm, and forecasters said it could get stronger. The
storm’s center was located 335 miles east of the Leeward Islands and it was
moving west-northwest near 20 mph.

Islands in the northeast Caribbean could see bigger waves from the storm in
the next day or two.

The most significant threat could be to Bermuda, which the storm could pass
in three or four days, forecasters said. But it also could move directly between
Bermuda and the eastern coast of the U.S. without making landfall.

It was too early to tell if Bill would veer close to shore over the weekend
or swing away from the East Coast of the U.S., but the five-day forecast
predicted its center would pass well offshore of the North Carolina-Virginia
line Saturday.

A cold front was expected to turn Bill to the northeast, but it wasn’t clear
when that would happen, Blake said.

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