Hurricane Fiona is racing towards Atlantic Canada, where a catastrophic collision is likely soon. Likely to be one of the most impactful hurricane landfalls in Canada’s history, the very significant storm system has prompted authorities to issue dire warnings ahead of the storm. Those in the path of Fiona in Canada should be rushing their plans to protect life and property to completion now. Impacts to Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec with heavy rainfall and powerful hurricane force winds will begin tonight.
As of the latest advisory from Environment Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the National Weather Service, Fiona is located about 708 km south-southwest of Sable Island. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 204 km/h. Minimum central pressure is down to 936 mb. The storm is moving to the north-northeast at 61 km/h.
According to Environment Canada and their Canadian Hurricane Centre, Fiona will be a severe event for Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. Numerous weather models continue to indicate that Fiona will transition into a very powerful post-Tropical storm as it makes landfall in eastern Nova Scotia early Saturday morning. This storm is still on track to produce very heavy rainfall and severe winds. The storm is also projected to be very large, with destructive winds fanning out far from the center. The strongest hurricane to strike Atlantic Canada was 2003’s Hurricane Juan; Hurricane Fiona is projected to be 2.5x larger.
The latest forecast guidance brings Hurricane Fiona northward across Nova Scotia waters tonight, making landfall near Canso, then passing through western Cape Breton Saturday morning, and then reaching the Quebec Lower North Shore and Southeastern Labrador by early Sunday. Severe winds and rainfall will have major impacts for eastern Prince Edward Island, eastern Nova Scotia, southern and eastern New Brunswick, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec, and southeastern Labrador. There will also be large waves, especially for the Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Finally, there is a high likelihood of storm surge for parts of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and western Newfoundland.
Most regions will experience hurricane force winds. These severe winds will begin impacting the region late Friday and will continue on Saturday. Similar cyclones of this nature have produced structural damage to buildings. Construction sites may be particularly vulnerable. Wind impacts will be enhanced by foliage on the trees, which have yet to drop due to how early it is in the autumn season, potentially causing prolonged and widespread utility outages.
Rainfall will be significant, especially north and west of Fiona’s track, where heavy rain could lead to flooding. The highest rainfall amounts are likely for eastern Nova Scotia, southwestern Newfoundland, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. Forecast guidance is suggesting widespread amounts of 100 to 200 mm, but closer to the path of Fiona, more than 200 mm is likely. Some districts have received large quantities of rain recently, and excessive runoff may exacerbate the flooding potential. Road washouts are also possible.
Rainfall warnings are now in effect from the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre for most of Nova Scotia, PEI, and southeastern New Brunswick.
There will be rough and pounding surf, especially for parts of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Newfoundland. Large waves will reach the eastern shore of Nova Scotia from the south tonight and build to more than 10 metres. These waves will reach southern Newfoundland by Saturday morning and could be up to or possibly exceeding 12 metres. Some of the waves over eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Cabot Strait could be higher than 12 metres. The western Gulf will see waves from the north up to 8 metres in places, which will probably cause significant erosion for north facing beaches of Prince Edward Island. Iles-de-la-Madeleine will also see some coastal erosion from waves.
Coastal flooding will also be a threat for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island including the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of St. Lawrence region including Iles-de-la-Madeleine and eastern New Brunswick, and southwest Newfoundland. The highest risk for coastal flooding will be a combination of storm surge with large waves moving onshore. There may also be some coastal flooding for the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Quebec Lower North Shore. For most areas the highest water levels will be near high tide some time on Saturday morning.
Storm Surge warnings have been issued for most of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, southwestern Newfoundland, eastern Nova Scotia and the east coast of New Brunswick. High water level warnings are also now in effect for various Maritime coastlines.