Category 3 Hurricane Fiona slammed into Bermuda on Friday with heavy rain and winds as it swept past the island on a track that saw it approach northeastern Canada late in the evening as a still-strong storm.
Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices in anticipation of Fiona. Prime Minister David Burt sent out a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourselves and your families. Let’s remember to check and look after our elderly, family and neighbours”.
The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for large coastal areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The US National Hurricane Center said Fiona was expected to reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds”.
“This could definitely be one of the more severe systems to hit eastern Canada,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Hubbard said the center of the storm is expected to arrive Saturday morning sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time, but wind and rain will arrive late Friday.
Authorities in Nova Scotia sent an emergency message to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to stay indoors, avoid the coastline, charge devices and have enough supplies for at least 72 hours. Officials warned of extended power outages, wind damage to trees and structures, coastal flooding and possible road washouts.
The US Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph on Friday. It was centered about 250 miles north of Bermuda and moving northeast at 35 mph.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 115 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds up to 345 miles.
“Strong winds, storm surge and heavy rain are expected across parts of Atlantic Canada tonight and into Saturday,” the center said Friday. “Life-threatening surf and rip current conditions are expected along the eastern Atlantic coast.”
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.
So far, Fiona has been blamed for at least five deaths – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.
Hurricanes are fairly rare in Canada, in part because when storms reach colder waters, they lose their primary source of energy. and become extratropical. But these cyclones can still have hurricane-force winds, albeit with a cold instead of a warm core and no visible eye. Their form can also be different. They lose their symmetrical shape and can look more like a comma.
Bob Robichaud, a preparedness meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center, told a news conference that simulations are predicting “record low” pressure across the region that will bring storm surge and 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) of rain. . .
Amanda MacDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said officials are preparing shelter for people before the storm hits.
“We’ve been through similar events before, but not to this extent, I’m afraid,” she said. “The impact will be big, real and immediate.”
Dave Pickles, chief operating officer of Nova Scotia Power, said widespread power outages are expected.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said a tropical depression had formed in the southern Caribbean. CBS News weather producer David Parkinson says models show Tropical Depression Ninth moving over Cuba as Hurricane Hermena, rapidly intensifying before making landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast, likely midweek, then possibly crosses Florida and heads to the east coast of the USA.
It was about 615 miles (985 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was moving at 13 mph (20 kph).
Without reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and destruction in Puerto Rico, prompting US President Joe Biden to say on Thursday that the full force of the federal government was ready to help rebuild the US territory.
Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said: “We’re all in this together.”
Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the ground in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused blackouts on the island.
More than 60% of electricity customers were without power Thursday and a third of customers were without water, while local officials said they could not say when service would be fully restored.
As of Friday, hundreds of people inremained isolated by blocked roads five days after the hurricane hit the island. Frustration was mounting for people like Nancy Galarza, who was trying to signal for help to work crews she spotted in the distance.
“Everybody’s going over there,” she said, pointing to a crew at the bottom of the mountain helping others also cut off by the storm. “No one comes here to us. I’m worried about all the seniors in this community.”
At least five landslides covered the narrow road to her community in the steep mountains around the northern city of Caguas. The only way to reach the settlement was to climb over thick mounds of dirt, rocks and debris left behind by Fiona, whose earthquake-force floodwaters rocked the foundations of nearby houses.
At least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas were completely isolated, said Luis González, municipal recovery and reconstruction inspector.
It was one of at least six municipalities where crews had yet to reach some areas. People there often depend on help from their neighbors, as they did after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Danciel Rivera arrived in rural Caguas with a church group and tried to bring some cheer by dressing up as a clown.
“It’s very important in these times,” he said, noting that people still haven’t recovered from Hurricane Maria.
His huge clown shoes sloshed in the mud as he greeted people whose faces lit up as they smiled at him.
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