Residents of Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada are bracing for hurricane-force winds and a possible historic storm as Hurricane Fiona approaches on Friday.
Evacuation centers were set up in Halifax, Nova Scotia’s largest city, more than 800 utility workers were on the ground across the province and officials on nearby Prince Edward Island warned of a storm surge of up to 8 feet.
“It’s certainly going to be a historic extreme event for Eastern Canada,” Bob Robichaud, Canadian Hurricane Centre’s preparedness warning meteorologist, said in a briefing Friday.
Fiona is forecast to be a “very strong metatropical storm” with hurricane-force winds when it makes landfall near the community of Canso in eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday, the Canadian hurricane center said.
At 9 p.m. Halifax time, the storm was “rapidly accelerating” toward Nova Scotia, Canada’s hurricane center said.
“Conditions will deteriorate rapidly over the next few hours,” it said.
The storm, which as of Friday night was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, has previously wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
On Friday, Bermuda was battered by heavy rain and 100 mph gusts as Fiona was downgraded as a Category 4 hurricane, officials said. No deaths were reported there.
In Canada, officials warned of possible extended power outages and urged residents to be prepared.
Hurricane warnings extend from Nova Scotia to Hubbards, which is west of Halifax, to the east, according to the National Hurricane Center in the United States.
Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine and western Newfoundland and Labrador were also under hurricane warnings, the US agency said. Tropical storm warnings also covered other areas.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with the people of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and urged Canadians to be prepared.
“It’s going to be bad,” Trudeau said Friday in an appearance with South Korean President Yun 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 needed for long, but we think they probably will be.”
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police urged people to stay off the roads and avoid unnecessary travel until the storm passes. Emergency officials in Nova Scotia, anticipating outages, warned residents of the deadly 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 up Boudreau’s “Bad Influence” lobster boat in hopes that it wouldn’t be lifted and broken by the winds.
“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. Something is coming, and 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 on Sunday, and many remained without power on Friday, five days later.
Eight deaths are believed to be related to the storm there, officials said. Two deaths in the Dominican Republic, involving a tree falling on a man and a woman who died in a motorcycle accident, were confirmed as storm-related by emergency officials there.
Canada has been hit by strong storms that started as hurricanes in the past, including three years ago.
In 2019, Hurricane Dorian hit Nova Scotia as a powerful post-tropical cyclone and knocked out power to 412,000 customers. Damage in Nova Scotia was estimated at nearly $102 million, the CBC reported.
In 2003 Canada was hit by Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 landfalling storm that hit Nova Scotia. Eight people died from the storm or its aftermath there, according to Canada’s weather service.
This storm caused so much damage that the World Meteorological Organization withdrew the name Juan from its list of hurricane names at Canada’s request.