Hurricane Fiona to hit Nova Scotia Friday as the region prepares for widespread power outages

A satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Fiona in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda, moving north towards Nova Scotia on Sept. 22.The Associated Press

A massive tropical storm bringing hurricane-strength winds, heavy rain and waves that could top 12 meters is bearing down on Atlantic Canada, as residents brace for what some meteorologists say could be one of the most powerful weather systems seen in years.

Hurricane Fiona, the first major storm of the season, is expected to make landfall on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore overnight Friday as authorities across the region prepare for potential flooding, widespread power outages and dangerous driving conditions. It’s forecast to transition into a post-tropical storm as it reaches the Maritimes, growing in scale and covering more territory as it moves north.

“That doesn’t mean it will be any less severe. These post-tropical storms still pack a good punch and can still support hurricane-force winds,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, NS “It’s going to be very, very strong, very impactful.”

The heart of the storm is expected to pass over eastern mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, but will also bring heavy rain and winds to much of southern and eastern New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fiona could bring winds of 100 kilometers per hour, with gusts up to 140 kilometers per hour, and rainfall of 150 millimeters – even as much as 200 millimeters in some coastal areas, he said.

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The marine forecast is projecting waves in excess of 10 meters, and possibly above 12 meters as the storm moves closer to Quebec’s eastern shore later on Saturday, Mr. Hubbard said.

“It’s important everyone understands this is going to be a very severe storm, and not to take it lightly,” he said. “They need to plan accordingly.”

People living along Fiona’s projected path were urged to prepare in advance of the storm. Large crowds flocked to grocery stores in the Halifax area Thursday and elsewhere as residents stocked up on food and propane. Officials in New Brunswick told people to prepare emergency kits with enough supplies to last 72 hours.


The forecast for hurricane Fiona

As of Thursday, Sept. 22, 11:00 am (ET)

Hurricane/tropical storm watch

Hurricane/tropical storm warning

Hurricane warning for Bermuda

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

The forecast for hurricane Fiona

As of Thursday, Sept. 22, 11:00 am (ET)

Hurricane/tropical storm watch

Hurricane/tropical storm warning

Hurricane warning for Bermuda

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

The forecast for hurricane Fiona

As of Thursday, Sept. 22, 11:00 am (ET)

Hurricane warning for Bermuda

Hurricane/tropical storm watch

Hurricane/tropical storm warning

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

“I cannot stress this enough: prepare today, continue to prepare tomorrow for a very intense event Friday evening into Saturday,” Jason Mew, the director of Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office’s incident management division, told reporters.

Some American meteorologists said modeling suggests Fiona has the potential to be a record-setting storm for Atlantic Canada in terms of its strength. On Thursday afternoon, the storm was about 1,800 kilometers southwest of Halifax with winds of 215 kilometers per hour. It’s projected to be stronger than 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, which prompted coastal evacuations in Nova Scotia and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

“It’s hard to overstate the scenario in Atlantic Canada with Fiona,” said meteorologist Bob Henson, on Twitter. “Such a broad model consensus on record-setting storm strength is almost unheard of.”

The approaching storm prompted the precautionary closing by Parks Canada of Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park and Cape Breton Highlands National Park effective noon Friday. The service said it would also close the Fortress of Louisbourg and Alexander Graham Bell national historic sites in Cape Breton beginning Friday.

Meanwhile, Bay Ferries announced that it was canceling its high-speed ferry service between Yarmouth, NS, and Bar Harbor, Me., on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As well, it warned that sailings for its service between Wood Islands, PEI, and Caribou, NS, may be disrupted on Friday, while all Saturday sailings are canceled along with all sailings for its service between Saint John and Digby, NS

Fiona caused historic flooding when it barreled through Puerto Rico earlier this week, smashing roads and bridges. It then struck the Dominican Republic and swiped past the Turks and Caicos Islands as it strengthened into a Category 4 storm.

With a report from the Canadian Press

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