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Hurricane Fiona could be Canada’s strongest-ever storm

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“Every citizen of Nova Scotia must prepare today and prepare for impact,” John Loehr, the minister in charge of the Regional Office of Emergency Management, said at a news conference Thursday.
“This could be the Canadian version of (Hurricane) Sandy,” said Chris Fogarty, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Center, noting the size and intensity of Fiona and its combination of hurricane and winter storm characteristics. Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states and all of the East Coast, causing an estimated $78.7 billion in damage.

Fiona was about 1,200 miles southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Thursday morning, and the area was already preparing for a rare and historic impact.

“Please take it seriously because we see meteorological numbers in our weather maps that are rarely seen here,” Fogarty said.

Loehr, of the Nova Scotia Office of Emergency Management, said the storm was likely to be “extremely dangerous” for the province.

“The storm is expected to bring strong and destructive winds, high waves, coastal storms, heavy and dangerous rainfall and long power outages,” Loehr said Thursday. “It’s time to get ready now before Fiona arrives tomorrow evening.”

The lowest pressure ever recorded in Canada was 940 millibars in January 1977 in Newfoundland, said Brian Tang, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Albany. “Current weather forecast models indicate that Fiona will make landfall in eastern Nova Scotia at a pressure of 925 to 935 millibars, which would easily set a new record,” he said.

There is a pressure of 920 to 944 millibars typically in a Category 4 hurricane.

Many forecasters, including Fogarty, compare this storm to Hurricane Juan in 2003, which hit the Canadian coast as a Category 2 storm.

“That storm was much smaller. This is huge,” Fogarty said.

Hurricane-force winds extend 70 miles in either direction from its center—tropical storm-force winds extend more than 200 miles. A track that is 140 miles wide can experience hurricane-force winds, and an area over 400 miles wide can experience storm-force tropical winds.

According to Tang, Fiona could grow more by the time the storm reaches Canada.

What Fiona can bring

Fiona is expected to reach Atlantic Canada Friday evening, and the area will begin to experience deteriorating conditions earlier in the day.

“Fiona is a pure hurricane right now. When it starts interacting with the cold weather system and the jet stream, it will transition into a super storm with characteristics of both a strong hurricane and a strong autumnal hurricane with hurricane-force winds, very heavy rain, storms and big waves,” Tang explained.

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The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to “continue to produce hurricane-force winds as it crosses Nova Scotia and heads toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence.” In fact, the storm can still carry winds of over 100 miles per hour when it makes landfall.

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and western Newfoundland can receive up to 6 inches of rain, with some areas receiving up to 10 inches. This can lead to a major sudden flood.

“We want people to take it seriously and be prepared for an extended period of utility outage and structural damage to buildings,” Fogarty explained.

Life-threatening storms and big waves are expected in the area.

Mike Savage, Mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality, capital of Nova Scotia, warned surfers and surfers to stay away from coastal areas, adding that people living near the coast “should be prepared to move on short notice and pay close attention to possible evacuation orders” .

“Across the Halifax area, you need to be prepared for fallen trees, extended power outages and local flood conditions,” the mayor added.

Amanda McDougall, Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said officials are preparing and working to ensure the safety of residents, as the area is in an “area of ​​direct impact”.

“We need to make sure that there will be a center for people to go to before the storm because we know there are different types of housing that will not be able to withstand the winds and the floods and the other way that buildings might be,” McDougall said.

How do you prepare for a hurricane?

Some waves over the eastern parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence may be higher than 39 feet, and West Bay will see waves from the north up to 26 feet in places, which could cause significant erosion on the north-facing beaches of Prince. Edward Island, the Canadian hurricane center said.

The Hurricane Center also warns of coastal flooding, especially during high tide.

It has been nearly 50 years since this severe storm hit Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. Both were winter storms — in 1974 and 1976, Fogarty said. Not many people will remember these two storms, so meteorologists are trying to send a clear message to residents to get ready.

CNN meteorologist Judson Jones contributed to this article.

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