Canada is bracing for what could be one of the strongest storms ever to hit the country as Category 3 Hurricane Fiona makes its way up the Atlantic coast.
The Canadian Hurricane Center said the storm would make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia as a powerful post-tropical storm early Saturday, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge.
Forecasters warned the storm could affect parts of the country, including Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, southeastern New Brunswick, western and southwestern Newfoundland and parts of Quebec bordering the Gulf of St Lawrence.
“Most regions will experience hurricane-force winds. These strong winds will begin affecting the region late Friday and will continue Saturday. Similar cyclones of this nature have produced structural damage to buildings,” the center said.
Heavy rain and flooding are expected, especially to the north and west of the storm, which left more than a million people without power in Puerto Rico as it barreled across the Caribbean.
“It certainly has the potential to be one of the most severe systems to hit eastern Canada,” Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre, told the Associated Press.
On Friday, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Bermuda, battering the island with heavy rain and strong winds. Authorities in the area opened shelters and closed schools, AP reports.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said Michael Weeks, the country’s security minister, adding that there were no major reports of injuries but that citizens should stay indoors and stay off the roads.
In Canada, a hurricane watch has been issued for large parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
The US National Hurricane Center reported that the hurricane could reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds”.
Emergency notices about the storm have been sent in Nova Scotia, with authorities warning people to stay inside, charge devices and avoid coastlines as wind damage and power outages are possible.
Local residents have also been preparing for the impending storm, the CBC reported, sharing a number of storm-preparation techniques on social media, such as keeping extra batteries on hand and using ice to keep food cold in the event of a power outage.
Meteorologists are particularly concerned about the potential damage from storm surges in coastal areas.
“We’re looking at the potential for maybe close to or even the highest water levels they’ve ever seen, so it could be quite, quite dangerous, quite damaging,” Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Carroll told the CBC.
Hurricanes in Canada are rare, with storms usually losing their power when they reach colder waters. But the storm headed for Canada still has hurricane-level winds.
Officials have continued to prepare and ready shelters for people to use before the storm makes landfall.
“We’ve been through these types of events before, but my fear is not on this scale,” Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, told the AP.
“The consequences will be big, real and immediate.”