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Hurricane warnings issued for P.E.I. as Fiona expected to cause major damage

Environment Canada made the official announcement early Friday: Hurricane Fiona will almost certainly hit Prince Edward Island as a storm with Category 1 winds and heavy rain.

The meteorological agency has issued hurricane warnings for all three counties in the province, as well as warnings for rain, wind and storm surge.

It will mean:

  • Hurricane-force winds of 100 km/h with gusts up to 140 km/h in open areas, even higher on the coast with gusts of 160 km/h.
  • Storm surge of 1.8 to 2.4 meters and dangerous waves of 11 to 15 meters on Saturday morning coincided with the arrival of the tide.
  • “Heavy and torrential” precipitation totals between 50 and 100 mm, with some places possibly as much as 150 mm.

“The rainfall will be staggering,” CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said Friday morning. “Storm surge will also be a major issue and you can bet Fiona will change the look of the coastline.

A statement from Environment Canada at 8:40 AM ET provides more details on the erosion: “Waves up to 8 meters high will be seen from the north in the western Persian Gulf, likely to cause significant erosion of northern beaches Prince Edward Island. de la Madeleine will also see some coastal erosion from the waves.”

Kings County in the east is likely to see the most rainfall, with strong winds in Queens and Kings counties, according to Environment Canada.

“Precipitation exceeds 25 mm per hour starting tonight and will continue until Saturday,” the agency said.

A map released by the Canadian Hurricane Center at 3 a.m. ET Friday. (Canadian Hurricane Center)

Winds in eastern Cape Breton and southwestern Newfoundland to the east of the eye are likely to receive gusts close to Category 2 hurricane levels, which are 160 km/h.

“Over PEI and parts of northern Nova Scotia, the wind will be much colder and from the northwest, with gusts up to 140 or 150 km/h.”

Environment Canada has explicitly stated potential impacts.

“These winds can cause significant tree fall and prolonged utility outages. Possible damage to building cladding and roofing material, including structural damage in some cases. Winds this strong can shatter windows and tear off large overhead road signs.”

Lines stood long outside the Island Waste Watch in Charlottetown on Thursday as people rushed to dump unwanted items from their properties ahead of weekend winds that could turn them into projectiles. (SHS)

The warning also states that Fiona “will cause damage to the docks and breakwaters. Significant shoreline erosion and large waves are expected where winds blow ashore.”

People who have to go outside during a hurricane are being warned to watch out for wind-blown debris and downed power lines, among other risks.

“Stay away from shore – the combination of high tide and large waves can lead to dangerous currents and the risk of being swept out to sea,” Environment Canada said in a statement.

You will see rain and wind. It’s not quite Fiona yet.— Tanya Mullally

It was wet and windy Friday, and Tanya Mullally of the provincial emergency management organization warned the islanders not to let their guard down, thinking it indicated that Fiona’s arrival would be mild.

“You will see rain and wind. It’s not quite Fiona yet,” she said. “We’re going to run into a low system that sort of moves across Canada into Atlantic Canada, and that’s actually what’s actually sucking Fiona through the Maritimes and into PEI.

“Fiona really won’t be felt, so to speak, until late Friday night and into the night hours.”

Tree that fell on a truck
A tree downed by Hurricane Fiona hangs from electrical wires above a street in Salinas, Puerto Rico on Tuesday. (Alejandro Granadillo/Associated Press)

As of 8:30 a.m. ET, Fiona was passing northwest of Bermuda with a maximum sustained wind speed of 205 km/h, causing severe flooding in the Caribbean that affected and killed at least eight people in Puerto Rico .

The influence of travel

Out of Fiona, the Confederation Bridge is warning of travel restrictions starting around 9 p.m. today and lasting until early Sunday morning.

Northumberland Ferries has canceled 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm ET flights from Wood Islands and 1:30 pm, 5:15 pm, and 6:30 pm flights from Cariboo, North Carolina. All flights on Saturday are canceled and the company expects disruptions on Sunday as well.

For now, Air Canada has canceled one of its Friday flights to Charlottetown, AC1570 from Montreal, normally expected at 11:30 pm.

For more information on what disruptions are being declared due to the storm, click here: Hurricane Fiona: What’s Open and Closed on PEI

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