HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Fiona knocked out power to more than 500,000 customers in Atlantic Canada on Saturday, damaging homes with high winds and rain as it made landfall as a large and powerful post-tropical cyclone.
Fiona turned from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm on Friday evening, but meteorologists warned it could still experience hurricane-force winds and bring torrential rains and huge waves.
More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers – about 80% of the province’s nearly one million – were affected by outages as of Saturday morning. More than 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without power.
The fast-moving Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn on Saturday with reduced power from the Category 4 strength it had early Friday when passing through Bermuda, although authorities reported no serious damage.
The Canadian Hurricane Center tweeted early Saturday that Fiona had the lowest pressure on record for a storm making landfall in Canada. Forecasters had warned it could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the country.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland said the town of Port aux Basques, Newfoundland is in a state of emergency as authorities deal with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding. Port aux Basques Mayor Brian Button said some homes were swept away by high winds and rough seas.
A local state of emergency has been declared by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s mayor and council due to widespread power outages, road closures and damage to homes.
“There are houses that have been significantly damaged due to downed trees, large old trees falling and causing significant damage. We also see houses whose roofs have been completely torn off, windows broken. There is an enormous amount of debris on the roads,” Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told The Associated Press.
“There is a lot of damage to property and structures, but no injuries at this stage. Again, we’re still in the middle of that,” she said. “It’s always terrifying. I’m just sitting here in my living room and I feel like the patio doors are going to break in with these big gusts. It’s loud and it’s shocking.
McDougall said the shelter they had opened was full overnight and they would look to open more.
The Federal Department of Public Safety has advised against all non-essential travel by car.
A hurricane watch has been issued for the coastal stretches of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has decided to delay his trip to Japan for the funeral of slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“We sure hope there won’t be much to do, but we think there probably will be,” Trudeau said. “Listen to instructions from local authorities and hang in there for the next 24 hours.”
The US Hurricane Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 km/h) on Saturday. He was moving in eastern Canada.
Hurricane-force winds extended out to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended out to 405 miles (650 kilometers).
Hurricanes in Canada are quite rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. But post-tropical cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds, although they have a cold core and no visible eyes. They also often lose their symmetrical shape and look more like a comma.
“Just an incredibly strong storm as it made landfall. And even though it is moving away, it is still affecting the area for several hours today,” Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Ian Hubbard said Saturday morning. in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Hubbard said he lost power at home and had to travel a long way to work because the bridges were closed. He said there were downed trees and signs in the Halifax area, but the situation was worse in other parts of the province.
In Sydney, N.S., the largest city in Cape Breton, about 20 people have taken shelter at the Center 200 Sydney sports and entertainment center, said Christina Lamey, spokeswoman for the region.
“The key message of this is that people stay home,” she said. “First responders are really tense right now. We want people to avoid the roads. Most roads carry hazards, with downed power lines and downed trees as well.
Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Center, said Fiona is shaping up to be a bigger storm system than Hurricane Juan, which caused extensive damage in the Halifax area in 2003. .
He added that Fiona was about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019. “But it’s stronger than Dorian was,” he said. “It will certainly be a historic and extreme event for Eastern Canada.
Nova Scotia authorities also sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to say inside, avoid the shore, charge devices and have enough supplies. for at least 72 hours.
So far, Fiona has been charged with at least five deaths – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said New Tropical Storm Ian in the Caribbean is expected to continue to strengthen and hit Cuba early Tuesday like a hurricane and then hit southern Florida early Wednesday.
It was centered about 315 miles (519 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 km/h) and was moving west-northwest at 14 mph (22 km/h). A hurricane watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
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