Hurricane Fiona roars past Bermuda and heads for Canada

The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

SAN SALVADOR, Caguas — Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, slammed into Bermuda early Friday with heavy rain and winds as it swept past the island on a route that was expected to unfold later in the day than still strong storm approaching northeast Canada.

Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourselves and your family. Let’s all remember to check on and take care of your elders, your family and your neighbors.”

The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The US National Hurricane Center said Fiona was expected to reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”

“It’s going to be a storm that everyone will remember when all is said and done,” said Bob Robichaud, Canadian Hurricane Center alert forecaster.

The US center said Fiona experienced maximum sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) late Thursday. It was centered about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Bermuda and traveling north-northeast at 25 mph (41 km/h).

Gale force winds extended up to 185 kilometers (115 miles) outward from the center and tropical storm winds extended up to 445 kilometers (275 miles) outward.

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 has been blamed 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 these hurricanes can still have hurricane-force winds, 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 more closely resemble a comma.

Robichaud told a news conference that modeling projected an “all-time” low pressure across the region that would bring storm surges and rainfall of 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches).

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall said officials are preparing a shelter for people to enter before the storm hits.

“We’ve seen these types of events before, but my fear is not on this scale,” she said. “The impact will be large, real and immediate.”

Dave Pickles, Nova Scotia Power’s chief operating officer, said widespread power outages are expected.

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 southern Florida early Wednesday.

It was located about 615 miles (985 kilometers) east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. It had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 km/h) and was moving at 13 mph (20 km/h).

Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and devastation in Puerto Rico, prompting US President Joe Biden to say Thursday that the full force of the federal government stands ready to help the US territory recover.

At a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, “We’re all in this together.”

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.

More than 60% of electricity customers were left without power and a third of customers without water on Thursday, while local officials said they could not say when service would be fully restored.

As of Friday, blocked roads have left hundreds of people in Puerto Rico isolated for five days after the hurricane swept across the island. Frustration mounted for people like Nancy Galarza, who tried to signal for help to workers she spotted in the distance.

“Everybody go over there,” she said, pointing to the crews at the base of the mountain helping others who were also cut off by the storm. “Nobody comes here to see us. I worry about all the elderly in this community.”

At least five landslides covered the narrow road to their 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 by Fiona, whose floodwaters shook the foundations of nearby houses with earthquake-like force.

At least eight of Caguas’ 11 communities are in complete isolation, said Luis González, municipal recovery and reconstruction inspector.

It was one of at least six communities where crews had yet to reach some areas. People there often rely on help from neighbors, as was the case after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm in 2017 that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

Danciel Rivera came to rural Caguas with a church group and tried to spread some joy by dressing up as a clown.

“That’s very important in these moments,” he said, noting that people never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria.

His giant clown shoes slapped through the mud as he greeted people, whose faces lit up when they smiled at him.

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington, Seth Borenstein in New York, Rob Gillies in Toronto, and Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed. Hurricane Fiona roars past Bermuda and heads for Canada

Laura Coffey

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