CAGUAS, Puerto Rico (AP) — Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island on a route forecast to have it approaching northeastern Canada late in the day as a still-powerful storm.
Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourself and your family. Let’s all remember to check on as well as look out for your seniors, family and neighbors.”
The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fiona should reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”
“It certainly has the potential to be one of the most severe systems to have hit eastern Canada,” said Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Hubbard said the center of the storm is expected to arrive Saturday morning sometime between 9 am and 10 am locally, but winds and rains will arrive late Friday.
Authorities in Nova Scotia sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to say inside, avoid coastlines, charge devices and have enough supplies for at least 72 hours.
The US center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) late Thursday. It was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Bermuda, heading north-northeast at 25 mph (41 kph).
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 275 miles (445 kilometers).
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.
Fiona so far has been blamed for at least five deaths — two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.
Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. and become extratropical. But those cyclones still can have hurricane-strength winds, though with a cold instead of a warm core and no visible eye. Their shape can be different, too. They lose their symmetric form and can more resemble a comma.
Bob Robichaud, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said at a news conference that modelling projected “all-time” low pressure across the region, which would bring storm surges and rainfall of between 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches).