Environment Canada issues hurricane watch for PEI as Fiona approaches

All of Prince Edward Island is now under a hurricane watch, according to Environment Canada.

The watch was posted as being in effect until noon on Saturday, but “will likely be upgraded to a hurricane warning tonight,” the federal weather agency’s website said at midday Thursday.

Environment Canada also updated its special weather statement in connection with the storm. The center of the forecast track currently has Fiona making landfall somewhere around the Canso Strait in Nova Scotia.

“Strong to severe wind gusts are expected to begin impacting [P.E.I.] on Friday night, peaking on Saturday,” the statement said. “Past storms of this nature have produced prolonged utility outages and structural damage. Buildings under construction will be particularly vulnerable.”

“As it stands right now, PEI is not going to be spared Fiona’s wrath,” said CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin, adding that the storm could hit as a Category 1 or Category 2 weather system before it heads out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence toward Quebec’s Lower North Shore.

PEI has ramped up preparations for the expected landfall of Hurricane Fiona Friday night, with the Island’s Emergency Measures Organization upgrading the activation level of its emergency plan.

The PEI Emergency Measures Organization said Thursday it’s partially activated Level 2, meaning staff and other government departments are meeting more often to discuss preparations for the hurricane.

Heavy rain will start late on Friday and the storm will continue through much of Saturday.

Fiona’s forecast track has been moving west in the last couple of days, making its impact on the region stronger than predicted early this week.

Fiona is expected to merge with a low-pressure system as it hits the Maritimes and transformed into a post-tropical storm. But much like Dorian, which had also been downgraded when it reached PEI, the effects could still be devastating.

Those effects will include high winds, intense rainfall, and coastal flooding with a storm surge and very high waves.

The PEI government is warning the impact of Fiona could be comparable to Hurricane Juan in 2003.

“Our window is certainly closing for preparedness,” said Tanya Mullally, acting as director of public safety for the province.

“People should be looking out their windows, looking at their properties and checking to make sure, everything that could become airborne should be tied down, taken in, whatever you can do.”

Securing those items will help to prevent damage from the storm.

With the size of this storm, even if the track changes some at this point islanders can assume significant impacts from tip to tip, Mullally said.

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