Forecasters at the Canadian Hurricane Centre warned Friday afternoon that it is expected to be an “extreme weather event” in eastern Canada, threatening strong winds, dangerous storm surge and about two months of rainfall. Some areas, such as the Canadian Maritime Authority, could start to be affected by Friday night, the centre said.
“This could be a landmark event for Canada in terms of the intensity of a tropical cyclone,” said Chris Fogarty, manager of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, and it could even become Canada’s version of Superstorm Sandy. Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states and the entire Eastern Seaboard, causing an estimated $78.7 billion in damage.
Officials in Canada’s Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island urged people in the storm’s path to remain on high alert and prepare for the hurricane’s impact. The hurricane has claimed at least five lives this week and shut down power to millions. Attacked multiple Caribbean islands.
Fiona intensified into a Category 4 storm over the Atlantic Ocean early Wednesday after passing the Turks and Caicos Islands and continued into Friday afternoon.
The storm weakened slightly, but would still produce hurricane-strength winds extending more than 100 miles from its center and tropical storm-strength winds extending more than 300 miles, the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin issued at 8 p.m. ET.
On Friday night, its center was about 215 miles southeast of Halifax.
Hurricane warning for parts of Nova Scotia
In Canada, hurricane warnings were issued for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brewer and Newfoundland from Parsons Pond to Francois. Prince Edward Island and Madeleine Island were also warned.
Lorre said residents should prepare for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall that could lead to prolonged power outages. Emergency officials encouraged people to protect outdoor items, trim trees, charge their phones and create a 72-hour emergency kit.
Chris Fogarty, manager of the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said the region has not seen such a severe storm in about 50 years.
“Take it seriously, because the weather data we see in the weather map is rare here,” Fogarty said.
Utility Nova Scotia Power on Friday morning activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that will serve as the central coordination area for outage recovery and response, according to a news release.
The company will also work closely with the Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management.
“We are taking every precaution and will be ready to respond to Hurricane Fiona as safely and effectively as possible,” Nova Scotia Power’s lead storm coordinator, Sean Bodden, said in a news release.
Southwest Newfoundland fisherman Andy Francis was preparing for the storm this week by pulling one boat out of the water and mooring another to a nearby dock.
“It’s going to be different,” Francis told the CBC.
Across Atlantic Canada, winds could be around 100 mph (160 km/h), as Fiona is expected to weaken slightly before making landfall in Nova Scotia, CNN meteorologists Rob Shackelford and Taylor Ward said.
Prince Edward Island officials are imploring residents to prepare for the worst as the storm approaches.
Tanya Mullally, who is the province’s chief of emergency management, said one of Fiona’s most pressing concerns is the expected historic storm surge.
Models from the Canadian Hurricane Centre suggest that storm surge “may be between 1.8 and 2.4 meters (6-8 feet) depending on the region,” said Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist at the center.
Mulally said the northern part of the island bears the brunt of the winds, which could cause property damage and coastal flooding.
The Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management said all provincial campgrounds, beach and day parks, and Shubenacadie Wildlife Park were closed Friday.
Fiona’s blackout continues
Earlier this week, Fiona damaged homes and critical power and water infrastructure for millions of people in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Much of Puerto Rico was experiencing extreme heat, leading to massive power outages that sent temperatures as high as 112 degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures remained in the 80s and 90s on Friday, according to CNN meteorologist Tyler Ward.
Daniel Hernández, LUMA’s director of renewable energy projects, explained that critical sites, including hospitals, will be prioritized before repairs can begin at the individual level.
“It’s a normal process. It’s important for everyone to stay calm … We’re trying to make sure 100 percent of our customers are served as quickly as possible,” Hernandez said.
More than a quarter of customers on the island have no water service or have intermittent service, according to the emergency portal system.
In the Dominican Republic, Fiona affects more than 800 families And 2,262 homes were destroyed, according to the national emergency chief, Major. General Juan Mendes Garcia.
He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in darkness on Thursday morning, and another 725,246 customers were without running water.
“It’s something incredible that we’ve never seen before,” Ramona Santana of Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español this week. “We have nothing on the street, no food, no shoes, no clothes, just what you have on your back. … We have nothing. We have God and hopefully help will come.”
Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, with power still out in some areas of British territory earlier this week, namely Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos Islands and Middle Caicos, Anya Williams said, islands.
CNN’s Allison Chinchar, Melissa Alonso, Ana Melgar Zuniga, and Amanda Musa contributed to this report.