After battering Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is headed straight to Canada’s Atlantic coast.
Fiona is now a category four hurricane, and though likely to weaken somewhat before hitting Canada, the storm could bring serious damage and severe weather from strong winds and heavy rainfall.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre has warned that Fiona could be a “landmark weather event in eastern Canada”.
Hurricane-force winds are forecast as the storm makes landfall in Nova Scotia between Friday night and Saturday morning.
Rainfall in most areas will be four and eight inches (10-20cm), but some places could experience more. In addition, waves along the ocean could swell over 40ft (12m) with storm surges threatening to flood coastal areas in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
“Fiona will bring widespread power outages due to high winds, flooding due to torrential rain and isolated storm surge and massive seas offshore and in the Gulf of St Lawrence,” AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Anderson told the outlet.
The Nova Scotian provincial government has encouraged residents to prepare for the storm including packing an emergency kit with flashlights and food.
Some events have been cancelled across the region as residents prepare for the storm, including national parks, the Halifax Oyster Festival and junior hockey league games, reports Global News.
Hurricanes occasionally make their way north and hit Atlantic Canada, though it doesn’t happen every year. The region’s most destructive hurricane in recent decades was Hurricane Juan, which made landfall in Nova Scotia as a category two storm in 2003 and resulted in eight deaths.
Hurricane Fiona may be downgraded to a “post-tropical cyclone” by the time it reaches land, but that doesn’t mean damage won’t be significant. The storm could bring the lowest air pressure ever recorded in Nova Scotia, reports The Washington Post, indicating potentially intense weather.
Fiona is forecast to brush near Bermuda from Thursday night to Friday morning, though the island will avoid a direct hit.
And the storm’s impact is still being cleaned up in the Caribbean. Many areas of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic still don’t have electricity or running water after the storm devastated public infrastructure.
Destructive hurricanes like this are only likely to get more common in the coming decades as the climate crisis grows. Warmer air and oceans can power up a tropical storm system quickly, creating dangerous winds and heavy rainfall when it hits land.
As a result, the percentage of hurricanes reaching category three or higher has been increasing over the past 40 years, a UN climate science panel has found.