Hurricane Fiona threatened the Atlantic island of Bermuda on Friday, passing west from British territory on its journey north toward Nova Scotia while packing the prospect of becoming one of the most severe storms in Canadian history.
Fiona already hit a string of Caribbean islands earlier in the week, killing at least eight people and causing nearly all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents to lose power during the intense heat wave.
Bermudians climbed on windows and stocked up on groceries and flashlight batteries while preparing for the storm, which was expected to approach Bermuda in the early hours of Friday morning. Fiona’s center would see a route up into the Atlantic between Bermuda and the east coast of the United States, but the storm’s outer bands would still pummel the area with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge.
Across the island, people cleared loose debris from yards and prepared to close storm shutters. Many homes were built with small shuttered windows, slate roofs, and limestone blocks to withstand frequent hurricanes.
“I’m taking every precaution to stay safe,” said Dean Williams, a resident of the capital, Hamilton. “Preparation is key because at its highest we can do nothing but wait.”
As of 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT), Fiona had maximum winds of 130 mph (215 km/h) and was about 280 miles (455 km) west-southwest of Bermuda and moving from north to north East at 20 mph (31 kph), the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
This made it a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, meaning it was capable of causing catastrophic damage.
It was also 1,000 miles (1,610 km) southeast of Halifax, the capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
The Government of Canada’s Environment Canada website said Fiona is shaping up to be the strongest storm to hit Canada since Dorian reached West Halifax in September 2019.
This storm is expected to bring hurricane-force winds and torrential rain to the Atlantic and eastern Quebec provinces starting Friday afternoon and extending through Saturday. It looks likely to track the eastern part of Nova Scotia before heading north to Newfoundland and Labrador by Sunday.
A wide area of Atlantic Canada, including parts of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and eastern Quebec, will feel the sway of the storm.
Like Dorian, Fiona can mitigate a post-tropical storm, but Dorian still holds Category 2 intensity, with sustained winds of 96 mph (155 kph). It toppled century-old trees and led to a major blackout.
Fiona can cause more rain. Meteorologists say areas close to its path can receive up to 8 inches (200 mm) of rain, while winds can damage buildings and cause utility outages, with storm surge swamping coastlines.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency said the hurricane has already demonstrated its destructive power in Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean, killing at least four people in Puerto Rico.
US President Joe Biden, at a news conference in New York, said the federal government will fund the removal of the debris, and the restoration of energy, water, shelter and food for the next month.
An estimated one million homes and businesses remained without power on US soil Thursday after Fiona hit Sunday, while people struggled with the heat and humidity.
Lumarie Rosa, a 26-year-old assistant at a chiropractic clinic, said there was no gasoline for her generator in her hometown of Hatillo.
“It’s as if the earth is on fire,” she said. “We can’t even turn on a fan.”
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