OTTAWA, Ont. — The hurricane that left 3.2 million people without power in Puerto Rico is expected to strike Atlantic Canada hard this weekend.
“This storm is going to hit us, folks,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said Thursday. “It’s going to hit us in the face.”
Hurricane Fiona is expected to run into a trough of eastward-moving low pressure, whisking together to make an “extremely strong and dangerous storm” for eastern Canada, said Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud.
Fiona is expected to be a post-tropical storm by the time it reaches the region by Saturday. “That does not mean a weaker storm,” Robichuad warned. “That just means that the structure of the storm is different than a pure tropical system.”
Modeling suggests Fiona will make landfall in Nova Scotia, touching eastern parts of the province, including Cape Breton, before moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“We are very concerned about what Fiona is going to do in Atlantic Canada,” said Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather. “This is going to be a ferocious storm across Atlantic Canada.”
Preparations have been underway for days. Residents in the region have been told to expect fierce winds, downed trees and power outages.
Nova Scotia Power said it will activate its emergency operations centre Friday morning in anticipation of the province’s first hurricane of the season.
“We are taking every precaution and will be ready to respond to Hurricane Fiona as safely and efficiently as possible,” said Sean Borden, the electric utility’s storm lead.
Provincial officials have advised residents to be ready with a three-day emergency supply of water, food, clothing, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights and blankets all packed in a bag or container, ready to go if there’s an evacuation order.
John Lohr, a provincial minister responsible for emergency management in Nova Scotia, said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has preemptively offered all available federal support.
“We’ve been in contact and discussions with the military, to give them a heads-up,” Lohr said. The government is looking to prepare an application for federal disaster financial assistance after the storm if necessary, he said, “It would likely be.”
Blair’s office said the minister has been in contact with the five provinces that could be impacted by Fiona — and encouraged people to follow guidance for local authorities.
“As Hurricane Fiona travels north, we are following the projected path closely for any potential impacts in Atlantic Canada and Eastern Quebec,” Blair’s spokesperson, Annie Cullinan, told POLITICO in an email. “As always, the Government of Canada stands ready to support should federal assistance be required.”
The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday morning that conditions would deteriorate in Bermuda as Fiona nears the country and that Atlantic Canada should monitor the storm.
Erdem Karaca, head of catastrophe perils, Americas, for reinsurance company Swiss Re, said Fiona could be one of the worst storms to hit that part of Canada since Hurricane Igor in 2010.
“They are not unheard of, but could be one of the stronger ones that impact the region,” he said.