Hurricane Fiona strengthened into a post-tropical cyclone on Friday night, but forecasters warned it could still bring hurricane-force winds, heavy rain and large waves to Atlantic Canada and could become one of the most severe storms in history. country history. .
Fiona, which started the day as a Category 4 storm but weakened to a Category 2 by Friday night, was already “producing strong winds and very heavy rain” over Nova Scotia by Friday night, the Canadian Hurricane Center wrote in a notice. It is forecast to make landfall in Nova Scotia in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The agency had issued hurricane and tropical storm warnings for large stretches of coastline in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
As of Friday night, the utility Nova Scotia Power reported on its website that more than 185,000 customers were without power as a result of the storm.
The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an advisory that Fiona would move across Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday. She will reach the Labrador Sea late on Sunday.
“Although gradual weakening is forecast over the next several days, Fiona is expected to maintain hurricane-force winds through Saturday morning,” the NHC wrote, adding that some areas of Atlantic Canada could experience a “dangerous storm surge.” which is expected to increase. cause coastal flooding.
As of 11 p.m. EDT Friday, the NHC said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph. She was centered about 140 miles east of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was heading north at 46 mph.
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland could get 3 to 6 inches of rain from Fiona, the NHC reported. Labrador and eastern Quebec could get 2 to 5 inches.
“This will definitely be one of the most powerful tropical cyclones, if not the most powerful, to affect our part of the country,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “It’s definitely going to be as serious and as bad as anything I’ve seen.”
Hubbard said the storm was weakening as it moved over cooler waters and he believed it was highly unlikely to make landfall at hurricane strength. Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once storms reach cooler waters, they lose their main source of energy. and become extratropical. But those cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds, albeit with a cold core instead of a warm one and no visible eyes. Its shape may also be different. They lose their symmetrical shape and can look more like a comma.
“It’s going to be bad,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. “Of course, we’re hoping it won’t take much, but we think there probably will be. And we’ll be there for it. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to stay safe and listen to instructions from local authorities and hang in there.” there for the next 24 hours.
Nova Scotia authorities sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to say indoors, avoid coastlines, charge devices and have enough supplies to last at least 72 hours. Authorities warned of prolonged power outages, wind damage to trees and structures, and coastal flooding and possible road slides.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule; Prince Edward Island; Island-of-the-Madeleine; and Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois.
People across Atlantic Canada were stocking up on last-minute essentials and protecting their properties from storms on the Friday ahead of arrival.
At the Samsons Enterprises shipyard in the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, Jordan David was helping his friend Kyle Boudreau tie up his “Bad Influence” lobster boat, hoping to not to pick it up and break it. by winds
“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. There’s something coming, and how bad is yet to be determined,” David said, donning his waterproof outdoor gear.
Kyle Boudreau said he was worried.
“This is our livelihood. Our boats break, our traps break… these are things you don’t have to start your season next year,” he said.
Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said authorities were preparing a shelter for people to enter before the storm hit.
“We’ve been through these kinds of events before, but my fear is not that much,” he said. “The impacts are going to be big, real and immediate.”
Dave Pickles, Nova Scotia Power’s chief operating officer, said he expected widespread power outages.
So far, Fiona has been blamed for at least five deaths: two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.
Fiona was a category 4 hurricaneand winds earlier on Friday. Authorities opened shelters and closed schools and offices. Michael Weeks, the national security minister, said there were no reports of major damage.
Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, leading to United States President Joe Biden.that the full force of the federal government is ready to help get the US homeland back on its feet.
Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, “We’re all in this together.”
Mr. Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused an island-wide blackout.
More than 60% of electricity customers remained without power on Thursday and a third of customers were without water, while local authorities said they could not say when service would be fully restored.
Until Friday, hundreds of people inremained isolated by blocked roads five days after the hurricane hit the island. Frustration mounted for people like Nancy Galarza, who tried to ask for help from work crews she saw in the distance.
“Everyone goes there,” he said, pointing to crews at the base of the mountain who were helping others who were also cut off by the storm. “Nobody comes here to see us. I am concerned for all the elderly in this community.”
At least five landslides covered the narrow road to their community in the steep mountains around the northern city of Caguas. The only way to reach the settlement was to climb over the thick mounds of mud, rocks and debris left behind by Fiona, whose floodwaters shook the foundations of nearby houses with the force of an earthquake.
At least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas were completely isolated, said Luis González, municipal recovery and reconstruction inspector.
It was one of at least six municipalities where crews had yet to reach some areas. People there often rely on neighbors for help, as happened after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Danciel Rivera arrived in rural Caguas with a church group and tried to bring some joy by dressing up as a clown.
“That’s very important right now,” he said, noting that people had never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria.
His oversized clown shoes squelched in the mud as he waved to people, whose faces lit up as they smiled at him.
Meanwhile, the NHC reported Friday night thatin the Caribbean could reach Florida on Monday, potentially as a hurricane, and cause flash flooding. In response, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency. The storm was expected to bring heavy rain to Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands before reaching south Florida.