Hurricane Fiona could potentially be a severe event for Atlantic Canadian provinces.
In a Wednesday afternoon update, Environment Canada said Fiona is now expected to impact Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec beginning Friday, “with heavy rainfall and powerful hurricane force winds.”
The weather agency said there are indications of a deep hybrid low-pressure system, which possesses both tropical and intense winter storm-type properties.
Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Ian Hubbard said regardless of whether it’s classified as a post-tropical storm, or a hurricane, “we’re still going to see very significant impacts from this.”
“There’s going to be a lot of energy, a lot of rain, and a lot of wind associated with that, regardless of what the storm is categorized that at the time,” he said.
“Even if you hear later on in the week that it’s no longer a hurricane, it doesn’t mean that things have gone away and we’re out of the water.”
Fiona had strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday, and as of 3 p.m. AT, it is located about 1,050 kilometres southwest of Bermuda, with maximum sustained winds of up to 213 km/h.
The uncertainty range shrunk on Wednesday, centered over Cape Breton, “with a broad coverage of hurricane-force winds including over land,” Environment Canada’s update said.
According to Hubbard, the impacts of Fiona will not be contained near the centre of the track, but is expected to “be widespread and see significant rain and wind over a larger area, portions of eastern Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and southwestern Newfoundland.”
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, hurricane Fiona is set to arrive offshore to the south of Nova Scotia, and move up the eastern shore of the province reaching Cape Breton on Saturday.
The powerful storm is expected to reach the lower Quebec northern shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.
Prince Edward Island, eastern Nova Scotia, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec, and southeastern Labrador will see major impact from severe winds and rainfall.
“There will also be large waves, especially for the Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” Environment Canada said. There is also a high likelihood of storm surge for coastal areas.
Most regions will experience “hurricane force winds” beginning late Friday.
“Similar cyclones of this nature have produced structural damage to buildings. Construction sites may be particularly vulnerable,” the agency said.
Fiona is also expected to bring widespread rainfall, between 100 to 200 millimetres, though it could be higher in areas closer to the hurricane’s path.
Waves in eastern Nova Scotia could exceed 10 metres on Friday night, and similar waves will likely reach Newfoundland by Saturday morning.
“Storm surge will also be a threat, for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, including Northumberland Strait, Gulf of St. Lawrence region including Iles-de-la-Madeleine, and southwest Newfoundland, but it is too early to provide details,” warned Environment Canada.
Hubbard added now is a good time for Atlantic Canadians to start preparing for the arrival of Fiona.
“There’s no escaping the impacts from it; rain and wind are going to happen, they’re going to be significant.”
He recommended having an emergency kit and taking outdoor furniture in.
A new update on Fiona from Environment Canada will be released Wednesday at 9 p.m. AT. The agency expects to have more detail on rainfall, waves and storm surge then.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre has been monitoring hurricane Fiona as of Sunday. It has already caused widespread damage in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Across Puerto Rico, Fiona’s winds and rains left most people without power and half of the population without running water amid what officials called historic flooding.
The storm has been blamed for killing four people as it marches through the Caribbean. It was expected to squeeze past Bermuda later this week before picking up speed on its way to Atlantic Canada.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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