Fiona will beat Nova Scotia as the strongest storm ever recorded in Canada

Canada’s Atlantic provinces are bracing for the strongest storm they have ever experienced on record when Hurricane Fiona crosses the North Atlantic, set to hit the area Friday night through Saturday.

The storm, which triggered devastating rains earlier this week in Puerto Rico, is expected to produce wind gusts of over 100 mph in parts of Nova Scotia and generate a dangerous ocean surge, or raise water above normally dry land. .

Prior to Fiona, the Canadian Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for portions of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Iles-de-la-Madeleine, and Newfoundland.

“Hurricane Fiona has the potential to be a landmark weather event in eastern Canada this weekend,” tweeted the Center.

Fiona is one of five different systems that meteorologists are closely monitoring in the Atlantic, which came to life with a roar during the peak of hurricane season.

There is also tropical storm Gaston, which is centered 375 miles west-northwest of the Azores on the northeastern Atlantic. The Azores are on the alert for a tropical storm and could see conditions worsen Friday and remain inclement until the end of Saturday. Additionally, a tropical wave coming off the coast of Senegal in Africa could turn into a named storm in the coming days. There is also a disturbance midway between Africa and South America that could develop gradually. Of potentially great concern is another fledgling storm that could deal a severe blow to the Gulf or the Caribbean.

The storm developing in the Caribbean could pose a danger to the United States

Fiona’s approach to Canada

On Thursday morning, Fiona was located just over 450 miles southwest of Bermuda, moving north-northeast at 13 mph. The maximum winds in the ocular wall were estimated at 130 mph, classifying the storm as a Category 4 hurricane.

Hurricane warnings have been hoisted in Bermuda, where Fiona could make a close pass west of the island early Friday. Winds from the hurricane force extend outward for 70 miles from the center of the storm, making forecasts risky.

This is what Hurricane Fiona’s surf looked like, from the top of a 50-foot wave

“The preparations … should be completed quickly,” wrote the National Hurricane Center. Bermuda may see a couple of inches of rain, as well as strong winds and rough waves.

After wiping out Bermuda, Fiona will accelerate north, dragged a little west by an approaching depression, or low pressure strip, exiting the east coast of the United States. This will send the storm swerving across southeastern Canada to eastern Nova Scotia or the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

As the storm will rapidly move north, it won’t have much time to weaken, meaning it will continue to produce the punch of a Category 2 hurricane. It will possess a mix of tropical and high latitude storm characteristics.

“We call this a low-pressure deep hybrid system, which possesses properties of intense, tropical northern winter storms with very heavy rainfall and strong winds,” wrote Environment Canada, the national equivalent of the US National Weather Service. “Most regions will experience some hurricane force winds. Similar cyclones of this nature have produced structural damage to buildings ”.

Fiona has landed dozens of flights. A JetBlue plane flew over the storm.

A storm of record strength and impact

Compounding the effect will be a “pressure dipole”. This means a strong contrast of air pressure over a short distance, in this case due to an intense high-pressure dome in southeast Greenland. The sharp gradient, or the change in air pressure with distance, will channel extremely strong winds toward a vacuum-like minimum.

The same low-pressure system could set a record for the lowest air pressure anywhere in Canada. The models simulate a storm with an air pressure between 930 and 935 millibars. The lowest barometric pressure ever observed in Canada was 940.2 millibars in St. Anthony in Newfoundland January 20, 1977. Typically, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

The extreme air pressure gradient around Nova Scotia will result in gusts of wind in excess of 100 mph, fueling a 5- to 8-foot storm surge, which will flood the coasts with water and create dangerous conditions. Additionally, 4 to 6 inches of rain will generate additional risks.

In the open sea, wave height can approach 80 feet, and there is an external possibility that some rogue waves can reach nearly 100 feet. In early September 2019, the remnants of Hurricane Dorian appeared to have raised a 100-foot tidal wave near Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.

Brian Tang, associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Albany, tweeted that “Fiona will be [an] off the charts ugly … generational storm for Nova Scotia.

Fiona may even bring some snow to portions of the Labrador Peninsula as the storm draws very cold air to its northwest flank. Uninhabited regions of the empty Canadian tundra can harvest up to 10 inches.

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