Arthur to make landfall in Nova Scotia, prompts warnings throughout Maritimes

The Canadian Press
July 4, 2014 03:04 AM

A man crosses a flooded Highway 64 as wind pushes water over the road as Hurricane Arthur passes through Nags Head, N.C., Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

HALIFAX - Forecasters say hurricane Arthur will make landfall in southwestern Nova Scotia on Saturday morning packing near-hurricane strength gusts and bringing torrential rainfall as it moves across the Maritimes.

"We want people to pay attention," said Chris Fogarty, the manager of the Halifax-based Canadian Hurricane Centre. "There are going to be some impacts from this (storm)."

Arthur resulted in the cancellation of some Independence Day celebrations along the East Coast of the United States and an exodus of residents from North Carolina's Outer Banks Island as the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season swept northwards.

Fogarty told a briefing on Friday afternoon that Arthur was poised to track through Nova Scotia at a time of year when few people expect such an intense storm.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and southern and eastern New Brunswick on Friday afternoon.

Fogarty said the storm is forecast to create gusts of up to 100 kilometres an hour — enough to bring down some trees and cause power outages — in both Nova Scotia and eastern P.E.I., possibly matching gusts that buffeted the province when the remnants of hurricane Earl struck the province in 2010.

An updated bulletin from the centre late Friday said exposed locations in southwestern Nova Scotia could be lashed by peak gusts hitting 120 kilometres per hour, which is hurricane strength.

A farmer in the Maritimes said he was concerned the predicted blasts of wind and sheets of rain could cause crop damage.

"I'm getting pretty worried," said Greg Gerrits, co-owner of Elmridge Farm in Centreville, N.S. "I've been farming 22 years in the vegetable business and I've never dealt with a storm that could be potentially this strong at this time of year."

The centre said as the tropical weather system moves over the region it will collide with a cold front, bringing downpours across the region, primarily through southern and central New Brunswick.

"We could see 20 to 25 millimetres come down in any given hour in the areas of central New Brunswick. ...There will inevitably be some flooding effects from this: shoulder and road washouts, small creeks will come up very quickly," said Fogarty.

The hurricane centre says there are parts of the province where up to 150 millimetres are expected to fall, though the heavy sheets of precipitation are likely to avoid the more densely populated Moncton area.

The Emergency Measures Organization in Fredericton warned residents that the expected deluge — 100 millimetres of rain over a 12-hour period — could lead to overflowing culverts and washed-out roads.

"Residents should be prepared for flash flooding along small drainage courses and potential washouts," the organization said in a statement.

The centre also predicted storm surges of up to one metre and waves of up to four metres along the coastlines of Nova Scotia, eastern New Brunswick and around P.E.I.

"Large waves giving heavy pounding surf are expected in some locations such as the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and the Gulf of St. Lawrence," the centre said in a bulletin. "However, this storm is not likely to produce a major coastal flooding event."

The storm comes at a time when the organizers of outdoor musical events across the region can usually count on clear weather.

Earlier this week, organizers cancelled the popular Stan Rogers folk festival in Canso, N.S., expressing concerns about public safety.

Tanya Mullally, the provincial emergency management co-ordinator in P.E.I., said her agency wants people who are attending outdoor musical events to "be mindful of the weather conditions and pay attention to weather alerts."

She estimated that about 20,000 people will be attending the Cavendish Beach Music Festival over the weekend.

Gwen Wyand, the chairwoman of the Resort Municipality, which includes the Cavendish area, said she will seek advice from the local RCMP, fire department, concert organizers and the emergency measures organization on whether her local government will allow the concert to proceed on Saturday.

"The wind would probably be the basic factor," she said in an interview.

Sailors taking part in next week's Route Halifax Saint-Pierre Ocean Race spent Friday getting their boats prepared for the weather.

"Initially I was very worried," said race chairman Scott MacLeod, adding he was shocked when he heard a major storm was brewing so early in the season. "It looked like it was going to smack us right on the nose, but it looks like it's going out to the Bay of Fundy.

"It was quite tense a few days ago when we thought it was coming right up here but I think if we do all the right preparation we should be fine, hopefully."

The weather is expected to pass by the time the annual race to the French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon off Newfoundland's southern coast starts on Tuesday.

In the U.S., the storm caused less damage than was initially feared, but the hurricane left tens of thousands of people without power Friday in a swipe at North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Arthur struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm with winds of 160 km/h late Thursday, taking about five hours to move across the far eastern part of the state. At the height of the storm, more than 40,000 people lost power.

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