‘Historic, extreme’ Fiona wallops Atlantic Canada with hurricane-force winds, rain

Fiona, now a post-tropical cyclone after a destructive run as a hurricane, made landfall in Atlantic Canada early Saturday with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain. Forecasters warn the storm may be one of the strongest on record to hit the region.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, The Magdalen Islands and the coast of Newfoundland, where Fiona is forecast to bring heavy rain, “powerful hurricane force winds,” coastal flooding, “rough and pounding surf,” and large, destructive waves likely to cause significant erosion in some areas, according to the The Canadian Hurricane Centre.

The center called Fiona a “historic storm for eastern Canada” and a “potential landmark weather event” in a region where hurricanes are relatively rare. Many storms weaken when they reach colder waters. 

Fiona is forecast to maintain hurricane-force winds until Saturday afternoon, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It is expected to gradually weaken in the next few days.

The storm is expected to dump 3 to 6 inches of rain on the region with local maximums of up to 10 inches in some areas, the U.S. center forecast. Forecasters also warned Fiona could bring widespread power outages, and more than 400,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power Saturday morning, the company reported.

Ian Livingstone surveys the damage to his house from a fallen tree early in the morning in Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.

Where is Fiona?

Saturday morning, the center of Fiona was over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, about 200 miles northeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was moving north at 23 mph.

Fiona is expected to move across the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Saturday morning, then over the Labrador Sea on Sunday.

Before passing through Bermuda on Friday, the storm devastated large swaths of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Officials in Bermuda reported no serious damage.

At least five people have died after Hurricane Fiona — two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one in the French island of Guadeloupe.

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Georgina Scott surveys the damage on her street in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.

Fiona makes landfall in Canada

Fiona made landfall in Canada early Saturday morning with sustained winds of up to 100 mph, the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, according to AccuWeather.

AccuWeather meteorologists forecast that Fiona may become “one of the strongest storms on record” in eastern Canada.

“This could be the storm of a lifetime for some people,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.

The storm is the “lowest pressured land falling storm on record in Canada,” according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre. Typically, the farther barometric pressure drops, the stronger the storm will be.

THE AFTERMATH:In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona leaves a ‘nightmare.’

Pedestrians survey the damage in Halifax as post tropical storm Fiona continues to batter the area on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Strong rains and winds lashed the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona closed in early Saturday as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone, and Canadian forecasters warned it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history.

“This is definitely going to be one of, if not the most powerful tropical cyclones to affect our part of the country,” said Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. “It’s going to be definitely as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen.”

The storm is about the same size as post-tropical storm Dorian, which pounded Canada in 2019, said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre. But Fiona is expected to be stronger.

“It’s certainly going to be an historic, extreme event for eastern Canada,” Robichaud said.

5 YEARS AFTER MARIA:Puerto Ricans were still struggling with Hurricane Maria’s devastation. Then came Fiona.

Puerto Ricans furious over lack of power

Half of Puerto Rico was still without power more than five days after Hurricane Fiona struck, and Puerto Ricans were growing frustrated with the island’s private electricity transmission and distribution company.

The situation was worsened by fuel disruptions that forced grocery stores, gas stations and other essential businesses to close.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was already struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which razed the system in 2017.

HOW TO HELP:Mutual aid, nonprofits to support

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.