It is the lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada, according to the Canadian Hurricane Center, which also described hurricane-force gusts battering the area. More than 40% of the population in Nova Scotia is affected by power outages, according to utility company Nova Scotia power.
Previously a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center declared that Fiona morphed into a post-tropical cyclone as it bolted north, exhibiting characteristics of storms with both tropical and high-latitude pedigree.
Irrespective of its technical designation, forecasters cautioned that the storm would be a blockbuster.
“This storm will be a severe event for Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec,” the Canadian Hurricane Center wrote Friday. The federal agency previously said the storm had the potential to become “historic” and “a landmark weather event.”
The storm was forecast to be so serious that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau postponed a visit to Japan, where he planned to attend Shinzo Abe’s funeral, at the last minute on Friday.
Hurricane warnings cover most of Nova Scotia as well as Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland, where meteorologists predict 3 to 6 inches of rain, with up to 10 inches in some areas, and hurricane-force winds of at least 74 mph. Tropical storm warnings extend from New Brunswick to eastern Quebec to northern Newfoundland, where rainfall could reach 5 inches and winds at least 39 mph.
The center also predicted a considerable ocean surge, or storm-driven rise in water above normally dry land, causing coastal flooding. It predicted a “rough and pounding surf” with waves up to 26 to 40 feet (8 to 12 meters).
As Fiona eyes Nova Scotia, a look at Canada’s strongest storms of the past
Ahead of the storm’s arrival, Nova Scotia, home to about 1 million people, was preparing Friday for the worst.
Nova Scotia Power warned of widespread power outages, with trees still in full bloom and soils relatively soft, and activated its emergency operations center. And the blackouts could be lasting, as crews will wait for winds to calm before they safely begin repairs, said Dave Pickles, the utility’s chief operating officer.
Fiona, which brought devastating flooding to Puerto Rico and cut power to the entire island, is the latest marker of an Atlantic hurricane season that started slow but has suddenly turned active. The storm is one of five systems meteorologists are watching in the Atlantic basin, including one that organized into Tropical Storm Ian Friday night and could soon become a threat to Florida as a hurricane.
Jason Samenow contributed to this report.