CAGUAS, Puerto Rico (AP) – Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, slammed into Bermuda Friday with heavy rains and winds as it swept past the island on a route forecast to approach northeastern Canada late in the day as a still strong storm.
The authorities in Bermuda opened shelters for Fiona and closed schools and offices. Michael Weeks, the Secretary of National Security, said there were no reports of major damage. He urged citizens to stay inside and off the road, saying, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
The Canadian Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch over vast coastal areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The US National Hurricane Center said Fiona should reach the area as a “large and powerful hurricane-force post-tropical cyclone.”
“It certainly has the potential to be one of the most severe systems to hit eastern Canada,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Center in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Hubbard said the center of the storm is expected to arrive sometime between 9am and 10am Saturday morning, but wind and rain will arrive late Friday.
Authorities in Nova Scotia have sent an emergency alert to phones warning of Fiona’s arrival and urging people to enter, avoid the shoreline, charge devices and have enough supplies for at least 72 hours. Officials warned of extended power outages, wind damage to trees and structures and coastal flooding and possible washouts
The US center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) on Friday. It was centered about 250 miles (405 kilometers) north of Bermuda, heading northeast at 56 kph.
Hurricane-force winds extended outward as far as 115 miles (185 kilometers) from the center, and tropical gale-force winds extended outward as far as 345 miles (555 kilometers).
A hurricane warning was in effect for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule; Prince Edward Island; Isle-de-la-Madeleine; and Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Francois.
Fiona is responsible for at least five deaths so far – two in Puerto Rico, two in the Dominican Republic and one on the French island of Guadeloupe.
Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their primary source of energy. and become extratropical. But those cyclones can still have hurricane strength, albeit with a cold rather than warm core and no visible eye. Their shape can also be different. They lose their symmetrical shape and can look more like a comma.
Bob Robichaud, Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Center, said at a news conference that modeling predicted an “always” low pressure in the region, causing storm surges and rainfall of 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches). .
Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, said officials were preparing a shelter for people to enter before the storm arrived.
“We’ve seen events like this before, but I’m afraid, not to this extent,” she said. “The consequences will be great, real and immediate.”
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center said a tropical depression in the southern Caribbean is expected to hit Cuba as a hurricane early Tuesday and then hit South Florida by early Wednesday.
It was located about 615 miles (985 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was moving at a speed of 13 mph (20 kph).
Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, prompting US President Joe Biden on Thursday to say the full strength of the federal government is ready to help restore US territory.
Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials are already on the scene in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused an island-wide power outage.
Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi activated the National Guard to help distribute diesel fuel to hospitals and supermarkets. The armed forces also supply generators used to run drinking water installations and telecommunications towers.
More than 60% of power customers were without power on Thursday, although efforts were made to restore power. Many customers were without water, while local officials said they could not say when service would be fully restored.
On Friday, hundreds of people in Puerto Rico were left isolated by blocked roads five days after the hurricane crossed the island.
At least five landslides covered the narrow road to her community in the steep mountains surrounding the northern city of Caguas. The only way to reach the settlement was to climb over thick mounds of mud, rocks and rubble left behind by Fiona, whose floodwaters shook the foundations of nearby houses with an earthquake-like force.
At least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas were completely isolated, said Luis González, municipal inspector for recovery and reconstruction.
It was one of at least six municipalities where crews had yet to reach some areas. People there often depend on help from neighbors, as they did after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Associated Press writers Rob Gillies in Toronto and Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.