Hurricane Fiona hammered Bermuda with heavy rain early Friday as the now-category 3 storm marched into northeastern Canada.
The center of the storm passed northwest of Bermuda Friday morning with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph, with higher gusts, the US National Hurricane Center said. The storm was downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane as it made its way past the island, it said.
Now it has its sights set on Atlantic Canada, where the storm’s strength will be historic for that region.
The Canadian Hurricane Center said Fiona is expected to reach the waters of the maritime province of Nova Scotia Friday evening, with “heavy rainfall” and strong “hurricane-force winds” expected to hit Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec from early Saturday.
“This storm will be a serious event for Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec,” it said on its website in an update early Friday. “Numerous weather models are consistent in predicting what we call a deep hybrid low pressure system, with both tropical and intense winter storm features, with very heavy rainfall and high winds.”
Hurricanes in Canada are relatively rare, with storms usually losing their main source of energy as they hit colder waters.
Canada’s east coast, however, has experienced such storms before, including Hurricane Juan in 2003, which severely hit parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and resulted in multiple deaths, according to Canada’s Hurricane Center. The storm also caused widespread power outages, extensive damage to trees and set record water levels on the coast, it said.
The North Atlantic, which Fiona is heading to, also represents some of the fastest warming waters in the world, with the region’s warming sea surface temperatures being attributed to climate change.
The hurricane center said the strong winds and rain expected to come with Fiona will have “major effects” on eastern Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec and southeastern Labrador.
“There will also be big waves, especially off the Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and eastern parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” the hurricane center said. It also warned of the high probability of a “storm surge,” or an abnormal rise in water caused by a storm, in parts of Nova Scotia, western Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The Hurricane Center also warned of the possibility of fallen trees and power outages, noting that “most regions will experience hurricane strength.” It said construction sites could also be “particularly vulnerable” to the storm.
Fiona has left major devastation, including eight deaths believed to be related to the storm in Puerto Rico, one confirmed death in the Dominican Republic and another confirmed death in Guadeloupe.
In Puerto Rico, much of the population is still without power and access to clean drinking water, as rehabilitation work continues after homes have been destroyed, trees downed and roads blocked by the hurricane.
At least 928,000 customers were affected by power outages in Puerto Rico early Friday, according to online tracker PowerOutage.us.
During a briefing Thursday with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, President Joe Biden said hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials were working on the ground to assist with response efforts in Puerto Rico.
“We’re all in this together,” the president said, expressing concern that many homes and businesses still had no power, as well as clean drinking water.
Biden also noted that Fiona’s devastation hit Puerto Rico exactly five years after Hurricane Maria, the deadliest U.S. natural disaster in more than 100 years.
“To the people of Puerto Rico who are still hurting from Hurricane Maria five years later,” he said, “we’re with you. We’re not going to run away. We’re serious.”