Hurricane Fiona is on its way and much of the Maritimes can expect heavy rainfall, strong winds, with storm surge likely along parts of the coast.
The storm is expected to make landfall early Saturday as a hurricane-force post-tropical storm.
Power outages are highly likely with sustained 60 km/h winds expected across much of Nova Scotia, PEI and southeastern New Brunswick, with gusts exceeding 100 km/h.
Areas in eastern Nova Scotia and PEI are likely to experience the heaviest winds with gusts of 120 to 140 km/h or higher, especially in exposed coastal areas. This will be especially problematic given the long duration of this event.
With the trees in full leaf, gusts in the 70-100 km/h range are also likely to cause some power outages for areas further west.
The rain has already started in the region as a cold front before Fiona moves through. A total of 100 to 150 millimeters of rain is expected along and west of the runway between the front and Fiona. Local amounts can exceed those during tropical downpours and there is a high risk of flash flooding and washouts.
Fiona will bring pounding surf and big waves to eastern Nova Scotia on Friday night, then the Gulf of St. Lawrence at night and Saturday.
The Canadian Hurricane Center is warning of coastal flooding off Nova Scotia, PEI and eastern New Brunswick as the combination of storm surge and large waves make landfall.
For most areas, the highest water levels will be Saturday morning at high tide.
So when will the storm come and when will it go away? Here’s an overview of what to expect.
Friday — Last-minute preparation
As New Brunswick takes a break from rain on Friday, most of Nova Scotia and PEI will see periods of rain as a cold front blocks over the eastern Maritimes.
The wind remains relatively weak, making last-minute preparations possible.
Friday Night — Shut the shutters
When we go to bed on Friday night, Fiona arrives. More rain is coming from the south and the wind is also increasing.
Friday Night—A Restless Night
As we move into the nighttime hours, we expect wind and rain to increase rapidly. Areas closer to the assault course will really start to feel the power of Fiona’s winds.
Saturday morning — Fiona comes ashore
As Fiona makes landfall near Cape Breton, the strongest winds and heaviest rains will continue.
The storm will be massive, bringing with it widespread damaging wind gusts of 100 km/h or more. High tides coinciding with strong winds and storm surges are likely to lead to coastal flooding for some areas.
Saturday Afternoon — Wind Remains Strong
Again, the duration of this storm will be one of the reasons it will be so severe. Many locations in the Eastern Maritimes are expected to see wind gusts in excess of 100 km/h for 12 hours or more.
Saturday night — Fiona leaves slowly
While in areas in the western Maritimes conditions will improve during the afternoon, it will be Saturday evening and night before people in eastern areas feel any relief from the intense wind and rainfall.
Stay safe and stay tuned for updates in the coming days. Myself and meteorologists Tina Simpkin and Jay Scotland will keep you updated on TV, radio and online in the coming days.
Computer simulation shows flood risk
Tim Webster, a research scientist at Nova Scotia Community College, said computer simulations he ran showed flooding could be a problem.
“At the moment at least it looks like it’s lining up on the Northumberland Strait side with high tide for early Saturday morning,” he said at the end of Thursday. “The storm surge forecast is about 1.7 meters.”
That could affect the coast and damage coastal properties and roads, he said.
Ancel Langille is the Canadian Red Cross’s senior manager of emergency management operations for the Atlantic Region.
He said people should consider collecting a 72-hour kit to get them through any outages or other storm-related issues. Tree traps can temporarily close roads, he noted.
The kit should cover all people and pets in the house, with things like recipes and pet food. He said people on well water want to have enough water in pitchers to get through a few days.
“Store [the kit] in a bag, a backpack. That way, if you’re evacuated, you can take that to a Red Cross shelter or other facility and that will make your stay with us a little bit more comfortable,” he said.
He added that it is safest for most people to stay at home rather than risk the roads during the storm. Emergency services will tell people if they should leave, he said.
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