Hurricane Fiona is poised to become a “very powerful” post-tropical storm by the time it makes landfall in eastern Nova Scotia this weekend, forecasters said Friday.
The storm, characterized as “historic” in its scope by meteorologists, is expected to bring hurricane-force winds and more than 100 millimetres of rain across much of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. Closer to the path of Fiona, more than 200 millimetres of rain is expected to fall — potentially leading to the washout of some roads.
In its latest update, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said the storm is moving northward and is expected to reach Nova Scotia waters in the late Friday night before passing through Cape Breton early Saturday. Fiona is expected to reach Quebec’s Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.
“Numerous weather models continue to indicate that Fiona will transition into a very powerful post-tropical storm,” the hurricane centre said.
Severe winds and rainfall are expected to result in “major impacts” for 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 pounding surf, with waves off Nova Scotia expected to build to more than 10 metres, while wave heights could be more than 12 metres in eastern parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
In addition to significant storm surge, potential for flooding in coastal and mainland areas and an “all-time” low pressure across the region, the storm is expected to cause widespread power outages due to trees and electrical poles brought down by powerful wind.
On Thursday, Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud said it remains to be seen if Fiona’s wind gusts will set records, but the expectation is that gusts will be stronger in some areas than the 150 km/h winds felt when post-tropical storm Dorian made landfall in 2019.
Nova Scotia Power has said that about 800 utility workers have been positioned in locations around the province in anticipation of outages and damage to power poles.
Amanda McDougall, the mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said Thursday that officials were preparing a shelter in the Sydney, N.S., area for people to enter before the storm begins. She said emergency planners are concerned that some kinds of older housing won’t be able to withstand the force of the winds.
The Construction Association of Nova Scotia also urged its members to shore up construction sites and building cranes ahead of the storm, warning that buildings under construction would be particularly vulnerable.
“With knowledge that construction and tower crane sites in the province come with some additional risk during these events, we urge you to be diligent to meet all safety precautions,” the association said on its website.
During Dorian, powerful winds toppled a 73-metre high construction crane in downtown Halifax. No one was injured but the crane caused damage to a 13-storey building that was under construction.
Fiona pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island as a Category 3 hurricane.