Power outages possible in N.B. as hurricane tracks just east, says meteorologist

·3 min read
Hurricane Fiona could bring winds as strong as 100 km/h to Caraquet by Saturday afternoon. (Tina Simpkin/CBC - image credit)
Hurricane Fiona could bring winds as strong as 100 km/h to Caraquet by Saturday afternoon. (Tina Simpkin/CBC - image credit)

Residents of eastern New Brunswick should be prepared for the possibility of losing power on Saturday, says an Environment Canada meteorologist.

Hurricane Fiona is currently on track to blow through Atlantic Canada as possibly a Category 3 storm starting early Saturday morning.

And while its effects will be mostly felt in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern parts of New Brunswick will likely see high winds and storm surges, said warning preparedness meteorologist Jill Maepea.

"Eastern New Brunswick should definitely be preparing now for... several days without power," Maepea said, in an interview.

"We are expecting those strong winds and with some trees with full leaves on... the trees may be uprooted a lot easier than say perhaps in winter when we have larger storms and wind strengths of the same level."

Maepea said it's also wise for residents in New Brunswick to have an emergency kit ready with water and food that can last a few days, and to bring any patio furniture indoors ahead of the storm making landfall.

Environment Canada has already issued tropical cyclone and special weather statements for eastern parts of New Brunswick, from the Bay of Fundy, up to the Bay of Chaleur around Bathurst and the Acadian Peninsula.

Tina Simpkin/CBC
Tina Simpkin/CBC

In a statement on Wednesday, the agency said the track of the storm is centred over Cape Breton Island, however a "range of uncertainty" means that areas within a 600 to 700-kilometre radius could be affected.

"Since we expect the storm to become very large, the impacts will be multi-provincial," said Environment Canada.

"Specifics in terms of winds, rainfall, waves and storm surge will be described in increasing detail here beginning this afternoon."

Specifics unclear

As of Wednesday afternoon, Fiona was a Category 4 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of about 210 km/h. The storm hit Turks and Caicos Tuesday and is expected to affect Bermuda on its way up to Atlantic Canada.

Estimates from CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said modelling shows the storm could bring wind speeds of up to 100 km/h in Caraquet, 85 km/h in Moncton and 75 km/h in Saint John and Fredericton by 4 p.m. Saturday.

With the storm still days away from reaching New Brunswick, Maepea said it's difficult to know for sure how strong winds will be and how much it will rain.

Maepea said a separate weather system moving in from the west at around the same time will also add to the precipitation created by Fiona.

Areas along the eastern and southeastern coast will also very likely have storm surges, but the height of those will depend on the tides that coincide with the storm making landfall, she said.

"We could have some localized coastal flooding," she said. "If you do have any sort of infrastructure building along the coast, whether it be a cottage or a home, you will need to keep an eye on them if there's possible coastal flooding with our forecast."

EMO monitoring storm

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is monitoring Hurricane Fiona as it moves up the Atlantic Ocean, said spokesperson Geoffrey Downey.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

For now, the organization isn't taking any active protective measures, but Downey said it's important for New Brunswickers to have a 72-hour emergency preparedness kit ready.

That should include water and non-perishable food, as well as prescription medication, candles, matches, flashlights and a battery-powered radio in case the power goes out.

"Everyone's really got to start paying attention to this," Downey said. "The forecast is is better here than say in Nova Scotia, but storms shift, forecasts aren't perfect."

Dominique Couture, spokesperson for N.B. Power, said the company is preparing for the storm, but didn't provide details.

"Due to some uncertainty with the track of the weather system, our plan continues to evolve as we gain a better understanding of possible impacts and areas of impacts," she said, in an email.