A series of hurricane and tropical storm watches were issued for Atlantic Canada by Environment Canada and the Canadian Hurricane Centre Thursday afternoon. A watch means that hurricane or tropical storm conditions are possible in the alerted area within 36 hours.
Hurricane Fiona continues to pick up speed towards the north as a Category 4 hurricane, now moving at nearly 25 kilometres per hour. The storm is forecast to pass to the west of Bermuda and enter the Scotian Slope marine waters of Atlantic Canada as a Category 3 hurricane on Friday.
Landfall as a powerful post-tropical storm, equivalent to a Category 1 or 2 hurricane looks increasingly likely in eastern Nova Scotia Saturday morning. The forecast cone for that landfall has now narrowed to span eastern Halifax County across Cape Breton. Various computer models show a landfall somewhere in the area from Canso to near Louisbourg in Nova Scotia between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday. Weather conditions in the Maritimes will deteriorate Friday night into Saturday morning.
HURRICANE WATCH ISSUED
A hurricane watch has been posted for Prince Edward Island and Halifax — east across Nova Scotia. Tropical storm watches extend into the southwest of Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick.
The highest probabilities of hurricane force winds — a one-minute sustained wind of 119 kilometres per hour or more — are near and to the east of the expected landfall point. At this time, that includes parts of Guysborough and Antigonish counties on the mainland of Nova Scotia, as well as Cape Breton. Tropical storm force winds — a one-minute sustained wind of 63 kilometres per hour — are being given a high probability across P.E.I. and Halifax – in eastern Nova Scotia.
A moderate probability of a tropical storm force wind extends into the south shore of Nova Scotia and southeastern New Brunswick. Gust strength will exceed those one-minute sustained winds.
Wind will increase in strength for much of the Maritimes Friday night into Saturday morning.
Peak gusts in eastern Nova Scotia and P.E.I. could reach 120 to 150 kilometres per hour due to being in proximity to the centre of the storm as it passes. That said, widespread gusts reaching 90 to 120 kilomtres per hours look possible, extending as far west as Halifax in Nova Scotia.
Gusts reaching 70 to 90 kilometres per hour could possibly extend into the southwest of Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick. Wind direction will primarily be out of the north and northwest. The exception is the area east of the landfall point, most likely Cape Breton, where the direction will be easterly turning southerly.
Wind of that strength will have the potential to cause power outages. In the eastern part of the region, where the wind is forecast to be strongest, there is an increased risk of tree and branch falls. Where the wind is onshore, it will help to produce a ferocious surf and risk of storm surge.
The greatest risk of a damaging storm surge looks to be the eastern and northern coastlines of Nova Scotia, the southeastern coastline of New Brunswick, and the northern coastline of P.E.I. The very low barometric pressure in the centre of the storm will allow for ocean water to rise up under it.
Intense winds will increase wave action against the coast further increasing the risk of flooding or damage. Near coastal waves reaching 10 metres, or 30 feet, may be present on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia late Friday night into Saturday morning.
A significant build of wave height in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is also expected, increasing the risk of erosion on north facing beaches of P.E.I. There is a period of high tide for the eastern part of the Maritimes Saturday morning — particular caution should be taken during that tide. Waves and risk of storm surge should diminish moving through Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening.
Torrential rain is expected for eastern parts of the Maritimes Friday night into Saturday morning. Friday through Saturday could see rain totals of 80 to 200 millimetres in eastern P.E.I. and eastern Nova Scotia increasing the risk of flash flooding and washouts. Rainfall totals could reach 50 to 80 millimetres extending towards the west of P.E.I. and central areas of Nova Scotia. There is potential for heavy rainfalls to quickly move into New Brunswick and the southwest of Nova Scotia.
Maritimers who have them should make sure that sump pumps and generators are in working order and the drainage on their property is clear of debris.
Other storm preparations to take include:
- having batteries for use in flashlights and lamps
- making sure mobile devices are charged
- stocking up on food and medication to last a period of 72 hours
- not travelling during the passage of the storm and the worst of the inclement weather