Howling winds and drenching rain pounded Bermuda on Thursday as Hurricane Nicole passed directly over the small British territory.

"Nicole is an extremely dangerous Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale," the National Weather Service warned.

As of 11 a.m., the eye of the 120-mph hurricane was passing over Bermuda. Storm surge, which could raise water levels up to 8 feet above normal tide levels, is being accompanied by "large and destructive waves," the hurricane center said.

Isolated tornadoes are also a possibility, and The Royal Gazette said islanders had claimed to witness some small twisters.

“There have been no confirmed touchdowns of twisters,” Bermuda National Security Minister Jeffrey Baron told the newspaper as the storm strengthened late Thursday morning.

Baron praised social media postings by residents, saying information being posted was mostly accurate.

Power outages were starting to sweep the island, the Gazette said.

The U.S. coast, still suffering flooding issues related to Hurricane Matthew, won't totally dodge Nicole, the hurricane center said. Swells associated with Nicole will spread along the U.S. East Coast from the Carolinas northward through the next few days.

"These swells will create dangerous surf conditions and rip currents," the weather service said.

Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY