Fiona lashed Canada’s Atlantic coast with fierce winds and torrential rainfall Saturday, damaging property and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses as it made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone.
The destructive storm system slammed into Nova Scotia shortly after 7 a.m. with windspeeds near 85 mph and peak gusts of over 100 mph. As of 8 a.m., Fiona was churning away about 200 miles northeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia and bolting north at about 23 mph. Despite downgrading overnight from a massive Category 4 hurricane, meteorologists warned that Fiona will likely still bring hurricane-strength gusts, drenching rains and huge waves to the Canadian coastline.
More than 414,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% of the province of almost 1 million — were affected by outages Saturday morning, according to Nova Scotia power.
“We are seeing significant impacts from the storm including uprooted trees, broken poles and downed power lines across the province,” the utility company said.
Another 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island were also left in the dark, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,000 were without electricity.
With a barometric pressure of 931.6 mb, it is the lowest pressured land-falling storm on record in Canada, according to the Canadian Hurricane Center, which previously described the storm as a “historic” and “landmark weather event.” Between its size, winds and rain, forecasters have said that Fiona could be one of the biggest oceanic storms to ever strike the nation.
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
A hurricane watch has been issued for coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
A local state of emergency was also issued in Cape Breton — the largest city in Sydney, Nova Scotia — amid widespread power outages, road closures and damage to homes in the area. Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Amanda McDougall, said a shelter set up overnight has already been filled and that officials are looking to open more.
“There are homes that have been significantly damaged due to downed trees, big old trees falling down and causing significant damage. We’re also seeing houses that their roofs have completely torn off, windows breaking in. There is a huge amount of debris in the roadways,” McDougall said.
“There is a lot of damage to belongings and structures but no injuries to people as of this point. Again we’re still in the midst of this,” she continued. “It’s still terrifying. I’m just sitting here in my living room and it feels like the patio doors are going to break in with those big gusts. It’s loud and it is shocking.”
The fast-moving Fiona is predicted to move quickly across Canada’s maritime provinces until Sunday, at which point Fiona is expected to meet with a cold, slow-moving system. That collision could stall the storm’s movement and lead to flooding across the slowdown region.
The hurricane has already been blamed for five deaths in the Caribbean, which it tore through early this week. Two people died in Puerto Rico, two others in the Dominican Republic and one more on Guadeloupe.
With News Wire Services