Powerful Hurricane Fiona roaring by Bermuda, then to Canada

SAN SALVADOR, Puerto Rico – Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane, hit Bermuda with heavy rain and winds early Friday as it swept across the island on a route forecast to approach northeastern Canada later day like a storm is still strong.

Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices in front of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent out a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourself and your family. Let’s all remember to check in and take care of your seniors, family and neighbors. “

The Canadian Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for large swaths of the coasts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The US National Hurricane Center said Fiona would approach the area as a “major and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds”.

“It’s going to be a storm that everyone remembers when it’s said and done,” said Bob Robichaud, meteorologist for Canada’s Hurricane Center preparedness warning.

The American Center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 km/h) late Thursday. It is centered about 195 miles (315 km) west of Bermuda, heading north-northeast at 21 mph (33 km/h).

Storm winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the center and tropical storm winds extend outward up to 275 miles (445 km).

Fiona has so far been blamed for at least five deaths – 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 hurricanes reach colder waters, they lose their primary source of energy. and become extratropical. But those tornadoes can still have hurricane-force winds, albeit with cold instead of a warm core and invisible to the naked eye. Their shape can also be different. They lose their symmetry and can look more like commas.

Robichaud said at a news conference that the model predicts “all-time” low pressure across the region, which will bring storm surge and 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) of rain.

Amanda McDougall, mayor of Cape Breton, said officials are preparing a shelter for residents to enter before the storm arrives.

“We’ve been through events like this before, but my fear, not to this extent,” she said. “The impacts will be big, real and immediate.”

Dave Pickles, chief executive officer of Nova Scotia Power, said they expected widespread power outages.

Before reaching Bermuda, Fiona caused severe flooding and destruction in Puerto Rico, prompting US President Joe Biden on Thursday to announce that the full force of the federal government is ready to help the US territory recover. return.

Speaking at a briefing with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York, Biden said, “We’re all engaged.”

Biden noted that hundreds of FEMA and other federal officials were in Puerto Rico, where Fiona caused island-wide blackouts.

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

As of Friday, hundreds of people in Puerto Rico were still isolated by closed roads five days after the hurricane hit the island. People like Nancy Galarza, who tried to signal for help from workgroups she spotted in the distance, saw the frustration.

“People go through there,” she said as she pointed to the teams at the foot of the mountain, who were helping others who were also cut off by the storm. “No one came here to see us. I worry for all the elderly people in this community.”

At least five landslides covered the narrow path to her community in the steep mountains around the northern town of Caguas. The only way to reach the settlement was to climb over the thick mounds of mud, rock and debris left behind by Fiona, whose floodwaters shook the foundations of nearby houses with a force similar to that of Fiona. earthquake.

Luis González, city inspector for restoration and reconstruction, said at least eight of the 11 communities in Caguas have been completely isolated.

It’s one of at least six cities where crews have yet to reach some areas. People there often depend on help from neighbors, as they did after Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane in 2017 that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Danciel Rivera arrived in the Caguas countryside with a church group and tried to bring in a little cheer by dressing up as a clown.

“That’s very important in these times,” he said, noting that people never fully recover from Hurricane Maria. “A lot of PTSD has come out on top these days.”

His giant clown shoes crumpled in the mud as he greeted people, their faces lighting up as 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.

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