Hurricane Fiona pounds Atlantic island of Bermuda with heavy rain and winds as it tracks northward toward eastern Canada, where it threatens to become one of the most severe storms in Canadian history.
Hurricane Fiona has barreled towards Canada with Nova Scotia province on high alert after the storm swept past Bermuda, where it left much of the population without power but caused little damage.
The US National Hurricane Center said on Friday Fiona was packing sustained winds of near 205 kilometres an hour and was "expected to be a powerful hurricane-force cyclone" when it makes landfall overnight into Saturday.
“This is definitely going to be one of, if not the most powerful, tropical cyclones to affect our part of the country," said Ian Hubbard, meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
“It’s going to be definitely as severe and as bad as any I’ve seen."
Authorities in Nova Scotia issued an emergency alert on phones, saying power outages were likely and people should stay inside with enough supplies for at least 72 hours.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the storm "a bad one," adding it "could have significant impacts right across the region."
In Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, stores sold out of propane gas cylinders for camping stoves as residents stocked up.
"Hopefully it will slow up when it hits the cooler water, but it doesn't sound like it's going to," Dave Buis of the Northern Yacht Club in North Sydney, Novia Scotia, told Canadian television.
Hurricanes in Canada are somewhat rare, in part because once the storms reach colder waters, they lose their main source of energy. and become extratropical. But those cyclones still can have hurricane-strength winds, though with a cold instead of a warm core and no visible eye.
No major damage in Bermuda
Bermuda had earlier called on residents to remain inside as strong winds raked over the British territory, but no fatalities or major damage were reported as Fiona passed roughly 160 kilometres to the west of the island.
The Belco power company said 15,000 out of 36,000 households were without power on Friday evening, with electricity being rapidly returned to many areas.
The Royal Bermuda Regiment said it was waiting for winds to die down before clearing roads. Residents posted images of downed power lines and some flooding on social media.
"We had some minor damage to the premises but nothing serious," Jason Rainer, owner of a souvenir shop in the capital Hamilton told the AFP news agency, saying some doors and windows had been blown out.
Store owners had covered windows with metal and wood sheets.
The island of about 64,000 people is no stranger to hurricanes –– but it is also tiny, just 54 square kilometres, and one of the most remote places in the world, over 1,000 kilometres from its closest neighbour, the United States.
Bermuda, whose economy is fuelled by international finance and tourism, is wealthy compared to most Caribbean countries, and structures must be built to strict planning codes to withstand storms. Some have done so for centuries.
Puerto Rico's rampage
Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, leading US President Joe Biden to say Thursday that the full force of the federal government is ready to help the US territory recover.
Governor Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico activated the National Guard to help distribute diesel fuel to hospitals and supermarkets. The force is also supplying generators used to operate potable water plants and telecommunications towers. Hundreds of people remained isolated by blocked roads.
Fiona killed four people in Puerto Rico earlier this week, according to US media, while one death was reported in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe and another in the Dominican Republic.