Hurricane warnings issued for PEI as Fiona expected to cause major damage

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  • CBC News will have special coverage of the arrival of Hurricane Fiona from Friday at 8 p.m. on CBC Radio One with updates hourly, hourly, with Cassie Williams in Halifax until 10pm and CBC PEI’s Wayne Thibodeau overnight. We will also have digital updates over the weekend.

Environment Canada made it official early Friday: Hurricane Fiona will almost certainly hit Prince Edward Island as a storm with Category 1 winds and torrential rain.

The weather agency issued hurricane warnings for all three of the province’s counties, as well as rainfall, wind and storm surge warnings.

It will mean:

  • Hurricane-force winds of 100 km/h gusting to 140 km/h in exposed places, pushing even higher on the coast with gusts of 160 km/h.
  • A storm surge of 1.8 to 2.4 meters and dangerous waves from 11 to 15 meters in height on Saturday morning coincide with the arrival of high tide.
  • “Intense and torrential” rainfall amounts to 50 to 100 mm in total, with some places possibly getting 150 mm.

“The amount of precipitation will be staggering,” CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said Friday morning. “Storm tides will also be a big problem and you can bet Fiona is going to change the look of the coastline.

An Environment Canada statement issued at 8:40AM AT provided more erosion context: “The western Gulf will see waves from the north up to 8 meters in places, likely to cause significant erosion for the north-facing beaches of Prince Edward Island. The Iles-de-la-Madeleine will also see some coastal erosion from waves.”

Kings County in the east is likely to get the most rain, and Queens and Kings counties will experience the worst winds, Environment Canada said.

“Rainfall rates in excess of 25mm per hour are possible from tonight and will continue into Saturday,” the agency said.

How to prepare for a storm like Fiona

Officials are urging people in Atlantic Canada in the path of Hurricane Fiona to make emergency preparations, including having enough food and water on hand for several days.

Winds in eastern Cape Breton and southwestern Newfoundland east of the eye will likely gust to near Category 2 hurricane level, which is 100 mph.

“Over PEI and parts of northern Nova Scotia, the winds will be much colder and from the northwest and could gust up to 140 or 150 km/h.”

Environment Canada was honest about the possible impact.

“These winds can cause significant tree fall and result in extended utility outages. Damage to building cladding and roofing materials is likely, including structural damage in some cases. Winds of this strength can break windows and tear off large overhead highway signs.”

Eastern Nova Scotia is also under hurricane warnings, while western Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are under tropical storm warnings. (Tina Simpkin/CBC)

The warning also said Fiona “will result in damage to docks and breakwaters. Significant shoreline erosion and large waves are expected where winds blow onshore.”

People venturing outdoors during the storm are being warned to watch out for windblown debris and downed power lines, among other things.

“Stay away from the coast – the combination of waves and large waves can result in dangerous rip currents and the risk of being pulled out to sea,” Environment Canada said.

You will see rain and wind. It’s not quite Fiona yet.— Tanya Mullally

Friday dawned damp and windy, prompting Tanya Mullally of the province’s emergency management agency to warn islanders not to let their guard down, believing that suggests Fiona’s arrival will be mild.

“You’ll see rain and wind. It’s not quite Fiona yet,” she said. “We’re going to see a low system kind of move across Canada into Atlantic Canada and that’s actually what’s going to suck Fiona over the Maritimes and into PEI

“Fiona really won’t be felt, if I may say so, until later on Friday night and into the wee hours of the night.

As of noon AT, Fiona was a Category 4 storm passing northwest of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph (215 km/h), after causing severe flooding on the Caribbean islands it touched and killing at least eight people in Puerto Rico.

Travel influences

Due to Fiona, the Confederation Bridge is warning of travel restrictions starting tonight around 12:00 p.m. 21 and lasts until early Sunday morning.

Northumberland Ferries has canceled the 15:30, 17:00 and 19:00 AT sailings from Wood Islands and the 13:30, 17:15 and 18:30 AT sailings from Caribou, NS. All crossings on Saturday have been cancelled, and the shipping company expects disruption on Sunday as well.

An Environment Canada map showing hurricane-force winds extending across Prince Edward Island at 03.00 at Saturday. (Environment Canada)

So far, Air Canada has canceled one of its Friday flights to Charlottetown, AC1570 from Montreal, normally expected at 11:30 p.m.

For more information on what disruptions are being announced due to the storm, click here: Hurricane Fiona: What’s open and closed on PEI

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