Fiona makes landfall in Nova Scotia, state of emergency declared in Cape Breton


The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has declared a state of emergency as Post-Tropical Storm Fiona, one of the strongest storms to hit Canada’s east coast, continues to pummel the island.

Fiona was producing hurricane-force winds when it made landfall at 7 a.m. on the eastern edge of mainland Nova Scotia near Canso.

The Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, NS, says Fiona set a record for the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded for a tropical storm to make landfall in Canada. The unofficial recorded pressure on Hart Island was 931.6 millibars, a measure of the storm’s strength.

The center says widespread gusts of between 90 and 120 kilometers per hour have been reported over Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Iles-de-la-Madeleine and southwestern Newfoundland, with a maximum gust reaching 161 km/h. h on Beaver Island, NS.

In Sydney, NS, the largest city in Cape Breton, wind caused severe damage to some homes, forcing families to flee.

“We’ve had a number of structural failures,” said Christina Lamey, a spokeswoman for the region. She confirmed that no one was injured. She said it was not clear how many houses had been damaged, but there are reports of collapsed walls and missing roofs.

Some 20 people have taken shelter at the Center 200 sports and entertainment facility in Sydney, it said.

“The key message of that is for people to stay home,” Lamey said in an interview. “The first responders are really under pressure right now. We want people to stay off the roads. Most of the roads have hazards, with downed power lines and downed trees as well.”

The storm has left more than 500,000 homes and businesses in the Maritimes without power.

As of 8:30 am local time, Nova Scotia Power was reporting that 414,000 customers were in the dark, that’s about 80 percent of the homes and businesses it serves.

In PEI, Maritime Electric reported that 82,000 of its 86,000 customers were without power, and NB Power reported 47,000 without power, most of them in and around Moncton, Shediac and Sackville.

In Charlottetown, city officials are advising residents seeking shelter at local reception centers to remain where they are until it is safe to move around the city.

“From tonight through possibly Sunday, please stay indoors unless absolutely necessary,” the city said in a statement. “Stay off the roads and expect continued power outages.”

The city remains littered with downed trees, downed power lines, and several streets remain blocked.

“Our dispatch center received over a hundred calls overnight about downed trees and power lines,” the statement said. “Crews are doing what they can, but most of the cleanup work will begin once wind speeds decrease from the levels we are currently experiencing.”

Parts of mainland eastern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have seen 75 to 125 millimeters of rain.

Off the coast of Cow Bay, NS, southeast of Halifax, Caralee McDaniel said the nearby Atlantic Ocean was “just wild.”

“We’re watching the wild waves break,” she said in an interview from her friend’s house, which lost power around 11:30 p.m.

“We have candles and several fully charged appliances… We have buckets of water and some boiled water in a thermos so we can make coffee,” he said.

“(Last night), you could see the windows bending… There were a lot of winds that creaked and howled… At times, we wondered if the wind was going to blow the windows down.”

Storm surge warnings remain in effect for most of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, southwestern Newfoundland, eastern Nova Scotia and the eastern coast of New Brunswick, with waves possibly exceeding 40 feet in the eastern portions of the Gulf of San Lorenzo and Cabot Strait.

Coastal flooding remains a threat to parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island including the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence region including the Madeleine Islands and eastern New Brunswick, southwestern Newfoundland , the St. Lawrence Estuary, and the Lower Quebec North Coast.

Hurricane and tropical storm warnings remain in effect for most areas.

The hurricane center said conditions will improve in western Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick later in the day, but will persist elsewhere.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 24, 2022.

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