There are several reasons why Fiona is already called a “historic storm” for Canada East, and one is her unusual left hook.
Tracking of the storm released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that once past the 40th parallel north, its track appears to veer slightly left, taking it directly to Nova Scotia and the Island of -Prince Edward.
Bob Robichaud, meteorologist in charge of preparedness for warnings at the Canadian Hurricane Center, does not see this path changing.
“The storm’s track remains roughly the same as what we’ve been talking about for the past few days,” Robichaud said during a virtual press briefing on Friday.
“The storm is expected to make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia. But… the impacts are going to be felt far beyond where the center of the storm actually is.
What makes this storm track unusual, experts say, is that hurricanes moving north from the subtropics typically veer east away from the coast when they hit the mid-latitudes, which located between the 30th and 60th parallels north.
This is due to the Coriolis effect. NOAA describes the Coriolis effect as the way the Earth’s counter-clockwise rotation causes weather events traveling a great distance, such as storms, to appear to veer right in the air. northern hemisphere and left in the southern hemisphere.
As NOAA explains, proximity to the equator determines forward speed. Near the poles, the Earth rotates more slowly. Near the equator, it rotates faster. For this reason, weather systems moving north from the equator move east because they move from the faster moving equator to the slower moving northern hemisphere.
In Fiona’s case, however, the Weather Network reports that an intense upper-level trough is forcing the storm to the left, or west, despite the Coriolis effect.
Although the curve does not appear severe, it is significant compared to the eastern curve that a hurricane would normally take. The Canadian Hurricane Center reports that the center of Fiona will make direct landfall over eastern Nova Scotia late Saturday morning, at which time it will be classified as a powerful subtropical storm.
Hurricane Sandy, to which this storm is already compared, followed a similar path in October 2012 when it veered through New Jersey and New York. In New York, this storm resulted in the death of 44 residents and estimated damage of $19 billion and loss of economic activity.
Another contributing factor to Fiona’s predicted severity is the water temperature off the east coast, according to AccuWeather. Hurricanes are usually weakened by increasingly cold waters as they reach the North Atlantic. This year, however, water temperatures in the North Atlantic, particularly in southern Atlantic Canada, are about 6-11°C warmer than average.
“These warmer-than-usual waters may cause the hurricane to weaken less or develop into a rainstorm more slowly,” AccuWeather reported Thursday.
Fiona is expected to bring dangerous winds, heavy rain, large waves and storm surges to Atlantic Canada. Impacts are likely to include prolonged utility outages, wind damage to trees and structures, coastal flooding and possible road washouts. Parts of Nova Scotia could receive more than 150 mm of rain by Sunday.
“We expect to make landfall on Saturday morning as a very powerful post-tropical storm, and from land this storm will track northeast again,” Robichaud said. “As of Friday afternoon, (Fiona) remains on track to be an extreme weather event here in Eastern Canada.”
Government officials say people should prepare for the storm by securing outdoor objects, cutting dead branches to reduce the risk of falling, and stocking up on water, ready-to-eat food, heating fuel, flashlights and radios, extra batteries and other emergency supplies .
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