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Hurricane Fiona knocks out power to thousands


High winds knocked out power to thousands of homes in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on Friday night as residents of Atlantic Canada began to feel Fiona’s wrath.

By 10 p.m., more than 14,000 Nova Scotia homes and businesses were plunged into darkness. Most outages were reported in the central part of the province, primarily in the communities of Sackville, Truro and Stellarton.

In Prince Edward Island, more than 1,000 homes and businesses lost power when the wind picked up in the region.

Earlier in the day, people across Atlantic Canada stocked up on last-minute essentials and protected their properties from storms ahead of the arrival of Fiona, which forecasters say will hit the region like a storm. “very powerful” post-tropical.

The storm, described as “historic” by meteorologists, is expected to make landfall early Saturday morning, bringing hurricane-force winds and more than 100 millimeters of rain to much of the region and eastern Quebec. Closer to Fiona Road, more than 200 millimeters of rain is expected to fall which could lead to gullying of some roads.

Bob Robichaud, an Environment Canada meteorologist, said Fiona is shaping up to be a bigger storm system than Hurricane Juan, which caused extensive damage to the Halifax area in 2003. He said he was about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019.

“But he’s stronger than Dorian was,” he told reporters during a briefing. “It will certainly be a historic and extreme event for Eastern Canada.”

He said wind speeds could reach up to 145 km/h with even stronger gusts in some areas.

Robichaud said the storm was moving north and was expected to reach Nova Scotia waters late Friday evening before crossing Cape Breton early Saturday. Fiona is expected to reach Quebec’s Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.

Dave Buis, vice-commodore of the Northern Yacht Club in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, expressed concern about the storm, which is expected to hit Cape Breton Island.

“Oh definitely, I think it’s going to be bad,” Buis said in a phone interview. “Hopefully he will slow down when he hits the colder water, but it doesn’t look like he will. He said he pulled his sailboat seven meters out of the water on Thursday.

On the eastern part of the island, in the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat, Nova Scotia, fishermen were also busy putting their boats in dry dock or trying to tie them securely to the wharf.

Lobster fisherman Kyle Boudreau said damage from major storms is hard for a coastal community to absorb. “It’s our livelihood. Our boats are breaking, our traps are breaking…these are things you don’t need to start your season next year,” he said.

Meanwhile, stores in Halifax sold propane gas cylinders used for camping stoves. The shelves in the camping department of a local Canadian Tire store that normally carried the little green canisters were completely bare.

But plumber and Halifax resident Chad Shiers said people looking for a small fuel tank could use plumbing propane.

“There are more ways to get what you need,” he said Friday after buying a blue propane torch. “If I have fire, I can eat. As long as they have what I need, I’m not going to panic.”

Robichaud warned people across the region not to be complacent just because they are not near the center of the storm’s path. “The impacts are going to be felt far beyond where the center of the storm actually is,” he said.

High winds and heavy rain are expected to have “major impacts” on eastern Prince Edward Island, eastern Nova Scotia, southern and eastern New Brunswick, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec and southeastern Labrador.

Coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are expected to experience breaking waves, with waves expected to reach over 10 meters off Nova Scotia and over 12 meters in the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In addition to significant storm surge, potential for flooding in coastal and mainland areas and an “unprecedented” low pressure in the region, the storm is expected to cause widespread power outages due to trees. and utility poles downed by strong winds.

A spokeswoman for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality said plans were to open the Center 200 sports center in Sydney as an evacuation center on Friday evening. Christina Lamey said the space is to be used by residents who feel they won’t be safe during the storm, especially those who live on the region’s south coast. Halifax was also set to open four evacuation centers on Friday evening.

In Prince Edward Island, Public Safety Minister Darlene Compton warned people who might be curious to stay away from coastal areas, saying it’s not worth watching. storm coming.

“My message is simple – don’t do it,” Compton told a briefing. “Don’t go near the water, put yourself or others in danger.” A provincial emergency alert warned residents of severe flooding expected along the North Shore.

In downtown Charlottetown, the normally bustling Confederation Landing was exceptionally quiet. Restaurant owners Lisa and Robert Gale decided to keep Lobster on the Wharf open on Friday afternoon to accommodate a tour bus expected at 5 p.m. Robert Gale said the worst storm they had faced was Dorian. “We would be lying if we said we weren’t worried about Fiona,” his wife Lisa added.

Red chairs that usually sat on the deck were stacked in their office along with tables, and they hoped the storm surges wouldn’t be so strong that there would be water in the restaurant.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey released a statement on Friday aimed at reassuring residents of his province, saying a provincial emergency operations center has been activated, while ministry crews Transportation was already checking culverts and clearing debris.

“Stay home if possible, as this will not only help keep you and your family safe, but will avoid putting emergency responders at risk,” Furey said.

In Quebec City on Friday, Premier Francois Legault said authorities are keeping a close eye on Fiona, which is on track to hit the Magdalen Islands, Gaspésie and the province’s Lower North Shore.

“I want to say to the people of these regions, be careful, there is a significant risk, prepare for the worst and we hope that it will go well,” said Legault in Laval.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Friday night that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s departure to Japan was delayed due to the current situation with Hurricane Fiona. Trudeau plans to attend the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Press secretary Cecely Roy said on Twitter that Trudeau will receive information on the emergency response to the storm and contact the premiers. She said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Atlantic Liberal MPs are in close contact with their provincial counterparts.

“The federal government stands ready to provide all necessary support in the response, to keep Canadians safe.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published September 23, 2022. With files from Michael Tutton in Petit-de-Grat, N.S., Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax, Hina Alam in Charlottetown and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

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