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Hurricane Fiona forecast to bring 'severe' winds, heavy rainfall to Atlantic Canada

Hurricane heads for Canada

UPDATE: 1:32 p.m.

People across Atlantic Canada were stocking up on last-minute essentials and storm-proofing their properties Friday ahead of the arrival of Fiona, which forecasters say will hit the region as a “very powerful” post-tropical storm.

The storm, characterized as “historic” in magnitude by meteorologists, is expected to make landfall early Saturday morning, bringing hurricane-force winds and more than 100 millimetres of rain to much of the region and eastern Quebec. Closer to the path of Fiona, more than 200 millimetres of rain is expected to fall — potentially leading to the washout of some roads.

Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said Fiona is shaping up to be a bigger storm system than Hurricane Juan, which caused extensive damage to the Halifax area in 2003. He said it’s about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019.

“But it is stronger than Dorian was,” he told reporters during a briefing. “It’s certainly going to be an historic, extreme event for Eastern Canada.”

He said wind speeds could reach up to 145 km/h with gusts even higher in some areas.

Robichaud said the storm is moving northward and is expected to reach Nova Scotia waters late Friday night before passing through Cape Breton early Saturday. Fiona is expected to reach Quebec’s Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.

Dave Buis, vice-commodore of the Northern Yacht Club in North Sydney, N.S., said he is worried about the storm, which is expected to slam the island of Cape Breton.

“Oh definitely, I think this is going to be a bad one,” Buis said in a telephone interview. “Hopefully it will slow up when it hits the cooler water, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to.” He said he removed his seven-metre sailboat from the water on Thursday.

On the eastern part of the island in the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat, N.S., fishermen were also busy dry-docking their boats, or attempting to lash them tightly to the wharf.

Lobster fisherman Kyle Boudreau said major storm damage is hard for a coastal community to absorb. "This is our livelihood. Our boats get smashed, our traps gets smashed … it’s stuff you don’t have to start your season next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, stores in Halifax sold out of propane gas cylinders used for camping stoves. Shelves in the camping department of a local Canadian Tire store that normally carried the small green canisters were completely bare.

But Halifax resident and plumber Chad Shiers advised that people in search of a small fuel tank could use plumbing propane.

“There's more ways to get what you need,” he said Friday after buying a blue propane torch. “If I have fire I can eat. As long as they have what I need, I’m not going to panic.”

Robichaud warned people across the region not to be complacent just because they aren’t near the centre of the storm’s track. “The impacts are going to be felt way beyond where the centre of the storm actually goes,” he said.

Severe winds and rainfall are expected to result in “major impacts” for eastern Prince Edward Island, eastern Nova Scotia, southern and eastern New Brunswick, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec and southeastern Labrador.

Coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are expected to experience pounding surf, with waves expected to reach more than 10 metres off Nova Scotia and more than 12 metres in eastern parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In addition to significant storm surge, potential for flooding in coastal and mainland areas and an "all-time'' low pressure across the region, the storm is expected to cause widespread power outages due to trees and electrical poles brought down by powerful winds.


ORIGINAL STORY: 6:26 a.m.

As much as 200 millimetres of rain is forecast to fall on Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec this weekend, as hurricane Fiona tracks towards the East Coast.

In addition to significant storm surge, potential for flooding in coastal and mainland areas and an "all-time'' low pressure across the region, the potentially "historic" storm is expected to cause widespread power outages due to trees and hydro poles brought down by powerful wind.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud said it remains to be seen if Fiona's wind gusts will set records, but the expectation is that gusts will be stronger in some areas than the 150 km/h winds felt when post-tropical storm Dorian made landfall in 2019.

Fiona is expected to reach Nova Scotia waters by Friday night before passing through the eastern mainland part of the province, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island on Saturday, and on to Quebec's Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., said the forecast was for the worst gusts to hit eastern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and parts of Prince Edward Island.

Coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are expected to experience pounding surf, with waves off Nova Scotia expected to build to more than 10 metres, while wave heights could be more than 12 metres in eastern parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.



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