Bermuda braced for Tropical Storm Gert

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Residents of Bermuda were today hauling their boats on to beaches and shuttering their homes as Tropical Storm Gert nears the archipelago.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Bermuda, though the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami forecast only one to three inches of rainfall for the isolated island chain.

Gert, the seventh tropical storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season, is moving north-northwest at 12mph and has maximum sustained winds of 45mph.

The storm, which formed yesterday afternoon, is expected near or just east of Bermuda today. It is projected to remain well away from the east coast of the US.

"We're gearing up for a windy night and perhaps some showers, but we should fare pretty well up here," said Jeff Torgerson, a meteorologist with the Bermuda Weather Service.

Steven and Eileen Chapman, of the riot-hit south London borough of Croydon, said the tropical storm would not ruin their holiday to Bermuda with their two sons.

"It seems very peaceful in Bermuda in comparison to Croydon," said Mr Chapman, who has visited Bermuda 14 times before. "We're not concerned about the storm. The hotel has not advertised it as a major concern."

Most residents of Bermuda, where basic storm preparations are a familiar routine, are also taking it in their stride.

"Right now it's a baby. We're paying attention to it, but people here don't get worked up about storms this size," said Francis Mahoney of Bermuda Yacht Services, a provider of emergency marine services.

Bermuda requires newly built houses to withstand sustained winds of 110mph. It also has a sturdy infrastructure with many of its power and phone lines underground.

Below Gert, a trough of low pressure located some 425 miles north-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands is generating some showers and thunderstorms.

US forecasters said yesterday that this system has about a 30% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next two days. It was moving west-northwest at about 15mph, according to the Hurricane Centre.