Hurricane Fiona: CBC's Ashley Brauweiler on what you need to know ahead of landfall

Ashley Brauweiler is CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's meteorologist. (CBC - image credit)
Ashley Brauweiler is CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's meteorologist. (CBC - image credit)

Hurricane Fiona strengthened overnight Tuesday, growing into a Category 4 storm with wind gusts at 260 km/h, still barrelling toward eastern Nova Scotia and western Newfoundland.

"This is a very strong storm," said CBC Newfoundland and Labrador's meteorologist, Ashley Brauweiler, on Wednesday.

"It's a big system. This is not something to take lightly."

Environment Canada has issued a tropical cyclone statement for all of Newfoundland and parts of Labrador's south coast.

Here's what Brauweiler wants you to know ahead of the storm making landfall.

When will we start to feel the effects in Newfoundland?

"It's going to be a long weekend," Brauweiler warned.

"This is going to be a massive storm essentially affecting all of Atlantic Canada by the time we get into Friday night into Saturday."

Over the next couple of days the storm will pass west of Bermuda, at this point approaching as a very strong hurricane, potentially Category 3, toward eastern Nova Scotia, said Brauweiler.

"By the time we get into Saturday morning at about 3:30 in the morning the winds will be sustained at 195 km/h."

As Fiona heads toward the Atlantic provinces it will transition into a post-tropical storm. When that happens, Brauweiler said, the wind field usually expands. "When you have a hurricane, typically it's around the centre is where you see the strongest winds, but in a post-tropical storm that wind field spreads out," she explained.

Where will we feel it?

Across the whole island and parts of Labrador, but southwestern Newfoundland will see the brunt of it.

Rain bands leading the storm will hit southwestern Newfoundland on Friday afternoon through Saturday, bringing somewhere between 80 and 100 millimetres of rain from Corner Brook southward.

But the main event is the wind, which will be severe.

"At this point, there is a good chance we will see hurricane-force winds, particularly for southwestern portions of Newfoundland, so … Burgeo through to the Port au Port Peninsula and then to the southwest. So we're talking 120 to as much as 140 km/h gusts," said Brauweiler.

"Areas like Corner Brook could still see gusts between 90 to 110 km/h through a good chunk of Saturday, and even along the south coast — and even to the Avalon, we could see 60 to 90 km/h wind gusts."


What else is at play here?

We could see extended power outages with these winds, which will be gusting with hurricane force from Saturday morning into the evening, said Brauweiler.

"Look outside. The trees are still in full leaf, right?" she said. "Typically when we see these strong winds it's the wintertime, the ground is frozen, there's no leaves on the trees. This time of year the ground is very much not frozen, and there's lots of leaves on the trees.… Basically it acts like a sail"

People should also expect storm surges.

"With this type of wind, and the fact that this storm has — is — approaching at such a strong category, I would say expect some pretty severe storm surge with this along the south coast."

How long will it linger over the region?

The rain will start Friday while the winds will start to pick up Saturday and continue for a good chunk of the afternoon, before the system continues north into Labrador. There will be some lingering showers in western Newfoundland on Sunday as the winds start to ease up. From Sunday night through Monday morning, the weather will start to clear and the winds will die down.

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