It is on track to become an “extreme weather event” in eastern Canada, with threatening strong winds, dangerous storm surge and about two months’ worth of rainfall, forecasters from the Canadian Hurricane Center warned Friday afternoon. And some parts, like the Canadian Maritimes, are likely to start feeling effects Friday night, the center said.
“This could be a milestone for Canada in terms of tropical cyclone intensity,” and it could even become the Canadian version of Superstorm Sandy, said Canadian Hurricane Center manager Chris Fogarty. Hurricane Sandy hit 24 states and the entire East Coast, causing an estimated $78.7 billion in damage.
Officials in Canada’s Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island urged those in the storm’s path to be on high alert and prepare for the impact of the hurricane, which has already claimed the lives of at least five people this week and has cut power to millions as it battered multiple Caribbean islands.
Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 storm over the Atlantic early Wednesday after passing through the Turks and Caicos Islands, and remained so until Friday afternoon.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 8:00 p.m. ET advisory that the storm weakened somewhat, but was still whipping up hurricane-force winds extending more than 100 miles from the center and tropical gale force winds extending more than 500 miles.
The center was about 215 miles southeast of Halifax Friday night.
Hurricane warning in parts of Nova Scotia
In Canada, hurricane warnings were in effect for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule and in Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois. Prince Edward Island and Isle-de-la-Madeleine are also warned.
Residents should brace themselves for damaging winds, high waves, coastal storm surge and heavy rainfall, which could lead to extended power outages, Lohr said. Emergency services have encouraged people to secure outdoor items, cut down trees, charge cell phones and prepare a 72-hour emergency kit.
Canadian Hurricane Center manager Chris Fogarty said the area hadn’t seen such a violent storm in 50 years.
“Please take it seriously because we see meteorological numbers on our weather maps that are rarely seen here,” Fogarty said.
Utility company Nova Scotia Power activated an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Friday morning that will serve as a central coordination area for recovery and response from outages, according to a press release.
The company will also work closely with the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
“We are taking all precautions and will be ready to respond to Hurricane Fiona as safely and efficiently as possible,” Sean Borden, the storm control coordinator for Nova Scotia Power, said in the release.
Andy Francis, a fisherman in southwestern Newfoundland, braced himself for the storm this week by pulling one boat out of the water and tying another to a nearby dock.
“This is going to be another,” Francis told CBC.
On the other side of Atlantic Canada, winds could be around 100 mph as Fiona is expected to weaken a bit before making landfall in Nova Scotia, CNN meteorologists Rob Shackelford and Taylor Ward said.
Prince Edward Island officials pleaded with residents to prepare for the worst as the storm looms.
Tanya Mullally, the county’s chief of emergency management, said one of the most pressing concerns with Fiona is the historic storm surge that is expected to unleash.
Modeling from the Canadian Hurricane Center suggests the rise “could be between 6-8 feet (1.8 and 2.4 meters) depending on the area,” said Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist at the center.
The northern part of the island will bear the brunt of the storm due to wind direction, which is likely to cause property damage and coastal flooding, Mullally said.
All provincial campgrounds, beaches and day parks, as well as the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, will be closed Friday, the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office said.
Fiona’s power outages continue
Earlier this week, Fiona damaged homes and disrupted critical power and water infrastructure for millions of people in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos.
The massive power outage is taking place in much of Puerto Rico enduring extreme heat, leaving temperatures as high as 112 degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures remained in the 80s and 90s Friday, according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.
Daniel Hernández, director of sustainable projects at LUMA, explained that critical places, including hospitals, will be prioritized before repairs can begin on an individual level.
“This is a normal process. The most important thing is that everyone is calm … we are working to ensure that 100% of customers have service as soon as possible,” said Hernández.
And according to the emergency portal system, more than a quarter of customers on the island had no or interrupted water supplies.
In the Dominican Republic, Fiona affected more than 8.00 households and destroyed 2,262 homes, according to the country’s head of emergency operations, Major General Juan Méndez García.
He said more than 210,000 homes and businesses were still in darkness as of Thursday morning and another 725,246 customers were without running water.
“This was something incredible that we’ve never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español this week. “We are on the street with nothing, no food, no shoes, clothes, just what you have on your back… We have nothing. We have God and the hope that help will come.”
Fiona also threatened parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, and parts of British territory were still without power earlier this week, namely Grand Turk, South Caicos, Salt Cay, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, said Anya Williams, acting governor of the islands.
Allison Chinchar, Melissa Alonso, Ana Melgar Zuniga and Amanda Musa of CNN contributed to this report.