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Fiona hits Canada, leaving half-million people without power

Sept. 24, 2022 Updated Sat., Sept. 24, 2022 at 9:23 p.m.

A flooded street in the town of Loíza on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Fiona’s heavy rain that flooded the island on Monday. The storm lashed Nova Scotia in Canada on Saturday, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
A flooded street in the town of Loíza on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Fiona’s heavy rain that flooded the island on Monday. The storm lashed Nova Scotia in Canada on Saturday, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Selena Ross, Sydney Page, Scott Dance and Laura Reiley Washington Post

MONTREAL – One of the strongest storms to hit Canada slammed into Nova Scotia’s coastline early Saturday, leaving most of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island without power.

Former hurricane Fiona made landfall early Saturday over Guysborough County on the northeast corner of mainland Nova Scotia, Canada’s weather service said. Maximum sustained winds reached almost 81 mph, while peak gusts of over 100 mph were detected, it said.

Fiona is the lowest-pressure land-falling storm on record in Canada, according to the Canadian Hurricane Center, which also reported hurricane-force gusts battering the area.

As of Saturday morning, nearly 100% of Prince Edward Island’s 86,000 customers were without power, as were most of Nova Scotia’s 500,000 customers, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.com.

“We are seeing significant impacts from the storm, including uprooted trees, broken poles and downed power lines across the province,” Nova Scotia Power said on its site.

Peter Gregg, the utility’s president and chief executive, told CTV News Atlantic that power outages could last for several days.

“We’re focused on as quick and safe a restoration as we can possibly do,” he said. “There will be a range that people will see, but there will be some of our customers who will see multiple-day outages for sure.”

Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, a hard-hit area in Nova Scotia, told CTV Atlantic that “power lines and power poles are everywhere.”

“Houses have lost their roofs. There are a great many trees that are down that are causing structural damage,” she said Saturday morning.

She added that it was too early to assess overall damage, in part because it is so hard to travel.

With live wires potentially on the roads, people have been asked to call 911 if they need to evacuate their homes and not to try to leave on their own.

Emergency responders in various parts of Nova Scotia have reported roof collapses but no major injuries.

“A neighbor has a tree down on their house, and basements are flooding,” said Bryson Sylliboy, 41, of Port Hawkesbury. “Usually during a storm someone gets hurt, but I feel like everybody heeded the warnings and stayed in. Even last night, there was a minimum of trucks on the roads.”

Newfoundland is also having widespread power outages. Apartment buildings have been destroyed and whole buildings washed out to sea in Port aux Basques, at the southwestern tip of the province.

The area is under an emergency evacuation order as the region continues to face flooding, storm surge and violent winds. According to local police, first responders are combating “multiple electrical fires, residential flooding and washouts.”

Over the past week, Fiona has cut a wide path of destruction, especially in the Caribbean.

Although Fiona was a Category 1 hurricane when it hit Puerto Rico, it battered the island with heavy rains that washed away roads, caused mudslides and cut off running water. Afterward, Fiona slammed the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and other parts of the Caribbean. By Wednesday, it had intensified to a Category 4 storm before it passed near Bermuda. It left most of the British territory temporarily without power on Friday.

Fiona is now a post-tropical cyclone but is still packing hurricane-strength winds. It is winding its way north-northeast and will pass into the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday before reaching the Labrador Sea by late Sunday.

“This storm will be a severe event for Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec,” the Canadian Hurricane Center wrote Friday. The federal agency previously said the storm had the potential to become “historic” and “a landmark weather event.”

The storm was forecast to be so serious that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau postponed a visit to Japan, where he planned to attend Shinzo Abe’s funeral, at the last minute Friday.

In Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland, meteorologists predict 3 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches in some areas, and hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph. Tropical storm warnings extend from New Brunswick to eastern Quebec to northern Newfoundland, where rainfall could reach 5 inches and winds at least 39 mph.

The center also predicted a considerable ocean surge, or storm-driven rise in water above normally dry land, causing coastal flooding. It predicted a “rough and pounding surf” with waves up to 26 to 40 feet.

Fiona is the latest marker of an Atlantic hurricane season that started slow but has suddenly turned active. It is one of five systems meteorologists are watching in the Atlantic basin, including one that organized into Tropical Storm Ian Friday night and could soon become a threat to Florida as a hurricane.

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