MONTREAL: Powerful storm Fiona knocked out electricity to more than 500,000 homes Saturday as it lashed east Canada with strong winds and heavy rains in conditions that police said were “like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
Though downgraded from a hurricane, Fiona still packed winds of 85 miles (137 kilometers) per hour as it barreled ashore in the early hours after battering the Caribbean, according to meteorologists.
In the province of Novia Scotia, more than 400,000 households were without electricity, Novia Scotia Power reported.
In neighboring Price Edward Island, some 82,000 households lost power, with police in the provincial capital Charlottetown posting images of tangles of downed power lines and roofs punctured by felled trees.
“Conditions are like nothing we’ve ever seen,” police tweeted.
“It’s incredible, there is no electricity, no wi-fi, no more network,” said Charlottetown mayor Philip Brown on Radio-Canada TV.
“It’s stronger than Hurricane Juan in 2003. A lot of trees have fallen, there is a lot of flooding on the roads.”
Canada had issued severe weather warnings for swathes of its eastern coast.
“Significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall are expected,” the US National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.
The Canadian Hurricane Center (CHC) said high-speed winds had been reported in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Newfoundland and that the storm would steam northeast, causing “damaging wind, waves, and storm surge.”
Rainfall of up to 4.9 inches (125 millimeters) was recorded in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the CHC said, with large waves hitting Nova Scotia and western Newfoundland of up to 40 feet (12 meters).
The CHC said conditions would improve in western Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick on Saturday.
Authorities in Nova Scotia had issued an emergency alert on phones, saying people should stay inside with enough supplies for at least 72 hours.
In Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, stores sold out of propane gas cylinders for camping stoves as residents stocked up.
Before it hit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the storm “a bad one,” adding it “could have significant impacts right across the region.”
Fiona had skirted Bermuda a day earlier, with residents battening down and authorities calling for people to remain inside as strong winds raked over the British territory. No fatalities or major damage were reported as the storm passed roughly 100 miles to the west of the island.
Bermuda, whose economy is fueled by international finance and tourism, is wealthy compared with most Caribbean countries, and structures must be built to strict planning codes to withstand storms. Some have done so for centuries.
Fiona killed at least four people in Puerto Rico earlier this week, according to US media, while two deaths were reported in the Dominican Republic and one in the French overseas department of Guadeloupe.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, a US territory that is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria five years ago.
In the Dominican Republic, President Luis Abinader declared three eastern provinces to be disaster zones.