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Hurricane Fiona forecast to bring ‘severe’ winds, heavy rainfall to Atlantic Canada

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HALIFAX – Hurricane Fiona is on track to blast through Atlantic Canada and Quebec as a formidable post-tropical storm this weekend.

Environment Canada’s forecast Thursday called for the intense low-pressure storm system to bring heavy rainfall and “severe” winds that will likely cause damage and widespread power outages.

Heading northward, Fiona was expected to reach Nova Scotia waters by Friday night before passing through the eastern mainland part of the province, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island on Saturday, and on to Quebec’s Lower North Shore and southeastern Labrador early Sunday.

Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., warned that the public needs to keep its guard up, even though the hurricane is expected to become a post-tropical storm once it makes landfall.

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“That doesn’t mean it will be any less severe,” said Hubbard. “These post-tropical storms still pack a good punch and can still support hurricane-force winds.”

Most affected regions will see wind speeds over 100 kilometres per hour, with the potential for gusts as high as 140 kilometres per hour in eastern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and parts of Prince Edward Island, Hubbard said.

The conditions are expected to bring pounding surf to coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, with waves off Nova Scotia expected to build to more than 10 metres.

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There is also the potential for flooding with widespread rain of anywhere from 100 to 200 millimetres closer to the path of the storm in eastern Nova Scotia, southwestern Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region.

Hubbard said if anything, the storm’s track had shifted slightly to the west and inland since the beginning of the week.

“As we get closer to the event, it’s becoming more likely that the track we are seeing now is getting closer to reality by the time it arrives,” he said.

The approaching storm prompted the precautionary closure by Parks Canada of Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park and Cape Breton Highlands National Park effective noon Friday. The service said it would also close the Fortress of Louisbourg and Alexander Graham Bell national historic sites in Cape Breton beginning Friday.

Meanwhile, Bay Ferries announced that it was cancelling its high-speed ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As well, it warned that sailings for its service between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., may be disrupted on Friday, while all Saturday sailings are cancelled along with all sailings for its service between Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S.

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Fiona caused historic flooding when it barrelled through Puerto Rico earlier this week, smashing roads and bridges. It then struck the Dominican Republic and swiped past the Turks and Caicos Islands as it strengthened into a Category 4 storm.

The forecast calls for the storm to pass near Bermuda early Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2022.

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