Powerful storm Fiona slammed into eastern Canada on Saturday with hurricane-force winds, nearly a week after devastating parts of the Caribbean.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm, now called Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona, was crossing eastern Nova Scotia, bringing high winds and heavy rains. The storm had weakened somewhat as it travelled north. As of 5 a.m. the storm was about 255km northeast of Halifax, carrying maximum winds of 150 kph and barreling north at around 43 kph, the NHC said.
Experts predicted high winds, storm surges and heavy rainfall from Fiona. Although a gradual weakening was forecast during the next couple of days, Fiona was expected to maintain hurricane-force winds until Saturday afternoon, the NHC said.
While we wait for the NHC’s official call, it looks like #Fiona has recently made landfall between Canso and Guysborough. With an unofficial recorded pressure at Hart Island of 931.6 mb, this makes Fiona the lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada. pic.twitter.com/TYo9G05sUz
— ECCC Canadian Hurricane Centre (@ECCC_CHC) September 24, 2022
Formerly designated a hurricane, the storm battered Caribbean islands earlier in the week, killing at least eight people and knocking out power for virtually all of Puerto Rico’s3.3 million people during a sweltering heat wave. Nearly a million people remained without power five days later.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delayed Saturday’s departure for Japan, where he was to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to receive briefings and support the government’s emergency response, Press Secretary Cecely Roy said on Twitter.
A hurricane warning was in effect for much of central Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, home to more than 150,000 people, and parts of Newfoundland, the Miami-based NHC said.
Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Ian Hubbard said on Friday the effects of Fiona would be felt over a wide area.
Here is the latest update on #Hurricane #Fiona. Weather models continue to indicate that Fiona will make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday morning and will produce very heavy rainfall, severe winds and storm surge.https://t.co/InPO6wTJg2 pic.twitter.com/peOChcKdh4
— ECCC Canadian Hurricane Centre (@ECCC_CHC) September 23, 2022
“The center of it is one thing, but the weather that’s associated with it in terms of the rain and where all the strong winds are, it’s going to be over a much larger area,” he said.
“Many, many places away from the center of the storm are still going to be seriously impacted from this,” Hubbard told Reuters.
There will be rough and pounding surf, with waves as high as 10 metres expected to hit the eastern shore of Nova Scotia Friday night.
Canadian authorities sent emergency alerts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, warning of severe flooding along shorelines and extremely dangerous waves. People in coastal areas were advised to evacuate.
“We’ve had a few before, but they say this is going to be the biggest of them all,” said Chris MacPhee, 53, of Sydney, Nova Scotia, who stocked up on groceries, batteries and candles. He said he was feeling “a little nervous, I guess.”
The storm could prove more ferocious than the benchmarks of Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud told a briefing.
The country’s two largest carriers, Air Canada and West Jet Airlines, suspended regional service starting Friday evening.
Trailing Fiona in the Caribbean is Tropical storm Ian, which is expected to become a hurricane on Sunday night. The NHC said that a hurricane watch is in effect for Cayman Islands.
The storms Ian’s projected path takes it just south of Jamaica, over western Cuba and into Florida early next week, the hurricane centre said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Friday, freeing up funding and emergency services in advance of the storm.