Canada is bracing for what could be one of the strongest storms to ever hit the country as Category 3 Hurricane Fiona makes its way up the Atlantic coast.
The Canadian Hurricane Center said the storm would make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday as a powerful post-tropical storm, with heavy rain, strong winds and storm surges.
Forecasters warned the storm could hit some of the country, including Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, southeastern New Brunswick, western and southwestern Newfoundland, and some parts of Quebec bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence. .
“Most regions will experience hurricane-force winds. These strong winds will begin to hit the region in late Friday and will continue on Saturday. Similar cyclones of this nature have caused structural damage to buildings,” the center said.
Heavy rainfall and flooding are expected, especially to the north and west of the storm, which left more than a million people without power in Puerto Rico as it swept across the Caribbean.
“It certainly has the potential to be one of the most severe systems to hit eastern Canada,” Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Center, told the Associated Press.
On Friday, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Bermuda, hitting the island with heavy rain and strong winds. Authorities in the area have opened shelters and closed schools, the AP reports.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Michael Weeks, the country’s security minister, adding that there were no major reports of damage, but civilians should stay indoors and off the road.
In Canada, a hurricane watch has been established over much of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that the hurricane could hit the area as a “large and powerful hurricane-force post-tropical cyclone.”
Emergency alerts about the storm have been sent in Nova Scotia, with authorities warning people to stay indoors, charge devices and avoid coastlines as wind damage and power outages are possible.
Local residents have also been preparing for the approaching storm, CBC reported, sharing some storm preparation techniques on social media, such as keeping extra batteries on hand and using ice to keep food cold in the event of a power outage.
Meteorologists are particularly concerned about the potential damage from storm surges in coastal areas.
“We’re looking at the potential for near or even the highest water levels they’ve ever seen, so that could be pretty, pretty dangerous, pretty damaging,” Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Carroll told CBC.
Hurricanes in Canada are rare, with storms usually losing strength as they reach colder waters. But the storm headed for Canada still has hurricane-level winds.
Officials have continued to prepare and prepare shelters for people to use before the storm lands.
“We’ve seen events like this before, but I’m afraid, not to this extent,” Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told the AP.
“The consequences will be great, real and immediate.”