Francis Bruhm, project manager for general contractor G&R Kelly, places sandbags around the doors of the Nova Scotia Power building before the arrival of Hurricane Fiona in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Friday.
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Hurricane Fiona pounded the Atlantic island of Bermuda with heavy rain and winds on Friday as it tracked northward toward eastern Canada, where it threatens to become one of the most severe storms in Canadian history.
Fiona had already battered a series of Caribbean islands earlier in the week, killing at least eight and knocking out power for virtually all of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million people during a sweltering heat wave. Nearly a million customers remained without power five days later.
The storm approached Bermuda as a Category 4 hurricane but diminished a notch to Category 3 as it passed west of the British territory early on Friday. Still, gusts reached as high as 103 mph, the Bermuda Weather Service said in a bulletin.
But Michelle Pitcher, the deputy director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said the territory appeared to be largely unscathed.
“It’s been a long night but there are no reports of injuries or fatalities,” Pitcher said. “There may be people with roof damage, but so far we haven’t heard of anything bad. As I said, we build our houses strong.”
Many Bermuda homes are built with small shuttered windows, slate roofs and limestone blocks to withstand frequent hurricanes.
By Friday afternoon, Hurricane Fiona was about 475 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s eastern coast, moving north at 35 mph with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was upgraded back to a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, meaning it was capable of causing catastrophic damage.
Though it may weaken as it travels north over cooler water, Fiona is still forecast to be a powerful hurricane-force cyclone when it moves across Atlantic Canada, the National Hurricane Center said.
“We know that provinces have tremendous resources to support and prepare for this, but it’s going to be a bad one,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Ottawa.
“The federal government is mobilizing resources to support however needed, so please stay safe,” Trudeau said.
The storm could prove more ferocious than the benchmarks of Hurricane Juan in 2003 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019, Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Bob Robichaud told a briefing.
“Where it fits in the history books, we’ll have to make that determination after the fact, but it is going to be certainly a historic, extreme event for eastern Canada,” Robichaud said.
Forecasters say areas close to its path could get up to 8 inches of rain, while winds could damage buildings and cause utility outages, with storm surges swamping the coastlines. The country’s two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines, suspended regional service starting Friday evening.
Fiona already displayed its devastating strength in the Caribbean, killing at least four people in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency said.
The storm reminded many Puerto Ricans of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria five years ago, from which the island has yet to fully recover.
Javier Rivera-Aquino, 50, who was a farmer in Lares, Puerto Rico before Maria destroyed his livelihood, said area farms were still digging out, with coffee fruit knocked off the plants grown in the mountains and whole banana farms washed out in the valleys.
”Total devastation,” he said. “They’re hit bad and I’m not sure what they’ll do.”
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