Canada braces for ‘extreme event’ as storm Fiona nears after leaving path of destruction

Residents of Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada were bracing for hurricane-force winds and a potential historic storm surge as Hurricane Fiona approached Friday.

Evacuation centers were opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city, more than 800 utility workers were in place across the province, and officials in nearby Prince Edward Island warned of a storm surge as high as 8 feet.

“It is going to be certainly a historic extreme event for Eastern Canada,” said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, at a briefing Friday.

Fiona is forecast to be a “very powerful post-Tropical storm” with hurricane-force winds when it makes landfall near the community of Canso on eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday, the Canadian hurricane center said.

At 9 pm Halifax time, the storm was “accelerating quickly” towards Nova Scotia, Canada’s hurricane center said.

“Conditions will deteriorate rapidly over the next several hours,” it said.

The storm, which Friday evening was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, previously caused major destruction in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

On Friday, Bermuda was lashed by heavy rain and gusts of 100 mph as Fiona passed as a Category 4 hurricane, officials said. No deaths were reported there.

In Canada, officials warned of possible prolonged power outages and have urged residents to be prepared.

Hurricane warnings stretched from Nova Scotia from Hubbards, which is west of Halifax, to the east, according to the National Hurricane Center in the United States.

Image: A pedestrian shields themselves with an umbrella while walking along the Halifax waterfront as rain falls ahead of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Halifax, on Sept.  23, 2022.
A pedestrian shields themselves with an umbrella while walking along the Halifax waterfront as rain falls ahead of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Halifax, on Sept. 23, 2022.Darren Calabrese / he Canadian Press via AP

Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine, and western Newfoundland and Labrador were also under hurricane warnings, the US agency said. Tropical storm warnings covered other areas.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with the people of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and he urged Canadians to be prepared.

“It’s going to be a bad one,” Trudeau said Friday at an appearance with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. “The federal government, as we always are, will be there with supports and resources as necessary — of course, we hope they won’t be much needed, but we feel they probably will be.”

Image: Empty shelves are seen in a grocery store as shoppers stock up on food in advance of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Halifax on Sept.  23, 2022.
Empty shelves are seen in a grocery store as shoppers stock up on food in advance of Hurricane Fiona making landfall in Halifax on Sept. 23, 2022. Darren Calabrese / The Canadian Press via AP

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police urged people to stay off roads and to avoid unnecessary travel until the storm passed. Emergency officials on Nova Scotia, anticipating outages, warned residents about the lethal dangers of carbon monoxide from generators if used indoors.

In Petit-de-Grat on Cape Breton Island, Jordan David was helping his friend Kyle Boudreau tie down Boudreau’s lobster boat “Bad Influence” in hopes it wouldn’t be lifted and broken by winds.

“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. There’s something coming, and just how bad is yet to be determined,” David told The Associated Press.

Puerto Rico saw an island-wide power outage as Fiona approached the island Sunday, and many remained without electricity on Friday, five days later.

Eight deaths are suspected of being related to the storm there, officials have said. Two deaths in the Dominican Republic, which involved a tree falling on a man and a woman who died in a motorcycle crash, were confirmed related to the storm by emergency officials there.

Canada has been struck by powerful storms that began as hurricanes before, including three years ago.

In 2019, Hurricane Dorian struck Nova Scotia as a strong post-tropical cyclone and knocked out power to 412,000 customers. Damage in Nova Scotia was estimated at almost $102 million, the CBC reported.

In 2003 Canada was hit by Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm at landfall that ripped through Nova Scotia. Eight people died in the storm or its aftermath there, according to Canada’s weather service.

That storm caused so much damage that the World Meteorological Organization retired the name Juan from its list of hurricane names, at Canada’s request.

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