Concern grows for Canada coast as category-4 Hurricane Fiona moves north

Fears are growing of the potential impact that the category-4 Hurricane Fiona could have on Canada’s Atlantic coastline as it continues to accelerate north away from the Bahamas and track west of Bermuda.

According to a bulletin from Guy Carpenter, over warmer than average sea surface temperatures, Fiona has intensified into a category-4 hurricane. A tropical storm warning as well as a hurricane watch has been issued for Bermuda with a projected track to pass west of the island by over 100 kilometres (60 miles) Thursday evening (22 September) through Friday morning. 

According to the broker, while gusts to hurricane force are possible as Fiona tracks west of Bermuda, the current NHC probability of sustained hurricane force winds on the island is less than 25%. 

However, it added, Fiona will be growing in size as the storm accelerates north, bringing significant swells, storm surge to south facing shores, rainfall of potentially 2-4 inches and sustained winds of high-end tropical storm strength or potentially category-1 levels in excess of 74 mph.

Current weather model guidance suggests Fiona will come close, if not break, the all-time low pressure reading for Canada of 940.2 mb, recorded in a winter storm in January 1977., according to Guy Carpenter:

“The National Hurricane Center calls for the potential of category-2 strength sustained winds on Saturday, along with significant storm surge into the Gulf of St Lawrence due to the unique angle of approach for Fiona. Excessive rainfall is also likely. On final approach to Atlantic Canada Friday night into Saturday, Fiona will be transitioning from a hurricane into a hybrid mid-latitude storm system, extending impacts across a multi-hundred kilometre stretch of coastline and inland areas including the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador and New Brunswick.”

Early Assessment of Impacts to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Turks and Caicos Islands suggest widespread and catastrophic flooding occurred across much of the island of Puerto Rico along with 100% of customers losing power. 

Guy Carpenter said Fiona was the first landfalling hurricane in the Dominican Republic since Jeanne in 2004.  Nearly 800,000 customers lost power in the eastern part of the country, along with reports of damage to buildings and power infrastructure along with widespread flooding and mudslides in mountainous areas.

In the Turks and Caicos, it added, with a population of 40,000, thus far there have been no reported fatalities while power outages occurred on five islands, including the largest of Grand Turk. Fiona strengthened to major hurricane status while passing over the south-eastern most part of the region. Fiona is the fourth major hurricane to pass within 60 miles Grand Turk, the last being Irma 2017 as a category-4 hurricane, while Ike 2008 and Frances 2004 were both category-3 strength events.