Hurricane Fiona lashes Bermuda and aims for Canada

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Hurricane Fiona was moving away from Bermuda on Friday morning after lashing the island in the Atlantic with high winds and heavy rain on its way north to eastern Canada.

Fiona, the strongest storm of the Atlantic hurricane season so far, was about 201km north of Bermuda as of 8am Eastern time, the National Hurricane Centre said.

It was moving at 40km and producing maximum sustained winds of 201kmh.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Nova Scotia and other parts of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec, areas that the storm was expected to approach later on Friday as a “post-tropical” cyclone.

Forecasters in Canada said Fiona’s heavy rainfall and powerful hurricane-force winds would arrive beginning early on Saturday.

Forecasters did not anticipate that Fiona would threaten the East Coast of the United States.

The Bermuda Weather Service said parts of the island had experienced hurricane-force winds early on Friday, including a 160kmh gust on the western side of the island. Around 2.54cm to 7.62cm of rain were expected.

“The closest point of Fiona has passed us, and I think we have come through this here in pretty good shape,” Michael Weeks, Bermuda’s minister of national security, said in a statement on Facebook on Friday.

He said emergency crews would assess any damage early in the morning and advised residents to stay off the roads and in their homes, as powerful winds and heavy bands of rain were still affecting the island.

As of early Friday, about 29,000 customers were without power across the island, according to Belco, Bermuda’s sole supplier of electricity.

The company said on its website that its crews would not be able to restore power until hurricane-force winds and storm conditions subsided.

Fiona was expected to approach Nova Scotia later on Friday with hurricane-force conditions, bringing 3-6 inches of rain to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and western Newfoundland, and potentially up to 10 inches in some areas, the hurricane centre said.

Hurricane or tropical storm warnings from the Canadian government were in effect as of 3am Eastern time on Friday for parts of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec.

The government said waves in some parts of the Gulf of St Lawrence could be higher than about 11.8m.

In Bermuda, officials have warned that storm surge from Fiona could bring high water levels and produce large, destructive waves.

Public schools and government offices, which operated on Thursday, were closed Friday.

Bermudans were making preparations for Fiona on Thursday. Residents of the island, which is believed to have inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempest, said that living there comes with the usual tribulations of a hurricane season.

“We are a country of storms,” said Kristin White, a writer and entrepreneur living in the 410-year-old town of St George’s.

“It is in our blood and bone. The structures here date back to the 17th century, so I’m fairly confident that the buildings will be fine. Knock on cedar; knock on limestone.”

The smell of the storm hung in the air, and salty spray blanketed vehicles before the hurricane’s anticipated arrival.

Business owners boarded up before an advisory to remain home took effect on Thursday night.

A government official said the island had built up a robust system to deal with hurricanes, which he said have been “growing more frequent and certainly more destructive” over the last 20 years.

“We have a very rigid planning regime that ensures that most of our structures are built to hurricane-strength levels, and this has stood the test of time for Bermuda,” said Walter Roban, the minister of home affairs.




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