Fiona is rolling over northeastern Canada as a big, powerful storm

CAGUAS, Puerto Rico – Hurricane Fiona turned into a post-tropical cyclone on Friday evening, but meteorologists warned it could still bring hurricane-force winds, heavy rains and large waves to the region of Canada Atlantic and could be one of the most severe storms in the country’s history.

Fiona, which started the day as a Category 4 storm but weakened to Category 2 strength late Friday, is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia early Saturday.

The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for large stretches of coastline in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fiona is expected to reach the region as a “large, powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”

“This will definitely be one of, if not the strongest, tropical cyclone to affect our part of the country,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “It’s definitely going to be as bad and as bad as anything I’ve seen.”

Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit Bermuda with heavy rain and winds earlier on Friday as it swept across the island on a track heading into northeast Canada.

Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. National Security Minister Michael Weeks said no major damage was reported.

The US center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (165 km/h) on Friday evening. It was centered about 140 miles (220 kilometers) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, heading north at 46 mph (74 kph).

Hurricane-force winds extended outward 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended outward 345 miles (555 kilometers).

Hubbard said the storm was weakening as it moved over cooler waters and he estimated it highly unlikely to make landfall with hurricane force. Hurricanes in Canada are quite rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. and become extratropical. But these cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds, but with a cold core instead of a warm core and no eye visible. Their shape can also be different. They lose their symmetrical shape and may look more like a comma.

Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Center, said the center of the storm was expected to arrive in Nova Scotia on Saturday morning, but its winds and rains would arrive late Friday.

“This is going to get ugly,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We of course hope there won’t be much to do, but we think there probably will be. And we’ll be here for that. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to stay safe and to listen to instructions from local authorities and hang in there for the next 24 hours.”

Prince Edward Island officials have sent out an emergency alert reporting severe flooding along the province’s north coast. “Immediate efforts should be made to protect property. Avoid shorelines, waves are extremely dangerous. Residents of these areas should be prepared to relocate if necessary,” the alert reads.

Nova Scotia authorities have sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to say inside, avoid the shore, charge devices and have enough supplies to at least 72 hours. Officials warned of prolonged power outages, wind damage to trees and structures, coastal flooding and possible road washouts.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule; Prince Edward Island; Isle-de-la-Madeleine; and Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois.

So far, Fiona has been charged with at least five deaths – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.

People across Atlantic Canada were stocking up on last-minute essentials and protecting their properties from storms on Friday before arrival.

At the Samsons Enterprises shipyard in the small Acadian community of Petit-de-Grat on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Jordan David was helping his friend Kyle Boudreau moor Boudreau’s lobster boat “Bad Influence” in the hope that it would not be lifted and broken by the winds.

“All we can do is hope for the best and prepare as best we can. There is something coming, and how much is yet to be determined,” David said, dressed in his waterproof gear. outside.

Kyle Boudreau said he was worried. “It’s our livelihood. Our boats are breaking, our traps are breaking…these are things you don’t need to start your season next year,” he said.

Aidan Sampson said he worked 11-hour days in his father-in-law’s shipyard last week, lifting fishing boats out of the water.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said New Tropical Storm Ian in the Caribbean is expected to continue to strengthen and hit Cuba early Tuesday like a hurricane and then hit southern Florida early Wednesday.

It was centered about 385 miles (625 kilometers) southeast of Kingston, Jamaica on Friday evening. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 km/h) and was moving west-northwest at 12 mph (19 km/h). A hurricane watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands.

Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, leading US President Joe Biden to declare on Thursday that the full force of the federal government stands ready to help the US territory recover.

Governor Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico activated the National Guard to help distribute diesel fuel to hospitals and supermarkets. The force also provides generators used to run drinking water plants and telecommunications towers. Hundreds of people remained isolated by blocked roads.

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Gillies reported from Toronto. Associated Press reporter Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed.

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