October 6, 2022

Hurricane Fiona has intensified to become this year’s strongest Atlantic storm as it rakes the Bahamas on its way to threaten Bermuda and eastern Canada later this week.

Fiona’s winds have grown to 130 miles (209 kilometers) per hour, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center advisory at 8 a.m. That’s up from 85 mph when the storm knocked out power across Puerto Rico on Sunday. A Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, Fiona is forecast to get even more powerful as it nears Bermuda.

The storm’s most intense winds will likely stay to the west of Bermuda, which has a sturdy building code and should be able to weather Fiona, said Adam Douty, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. A tropical storm warning and hurricane watch have been issued for the island.

“The big story from here is going to be Canada, as far as Fiona is concerned,” Douty said. “It does look likely be a contender for the strongest storm” to hit this region.

Fiona will approach Nova Scotia as a deadly Category 3 storm but likely lose power and could even transition away from a tropical system as it nears the coastline. However, Douty said it will still have the power of Category 2 hurricane and because so many trees still have leaves on them across Atlantic Canada, it could cause “widespread power outages” since they add stress to the branches.

Wind gusts of 100 mph could rake the area. In addition, flooding rains will wring out across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province.

Fiona already has left a trail of destruction. It knocked out power across all of Puerto Rico Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane, leaving 3.1 million people in the dark, and then went on to cause massive flooding there and in the Dominican Republic.

Fiona likely caused $3 billion to $4 billion in economic losses across Puerto Rico, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research, wrote in his blog. Damages in the Dominican Republic could rise to $2 billion.

While Fiona menaces Atlantic Canada, a second swirl of thunderstorms and showers approaching the eastern Caribbean could become the season’s eighth storm this weekend and potentially threaten the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Douty said current models keep the storm out of the energy-rich western Gulf, but it could become a major system for Florida.

And Tropical Storm Gaston is swirling in the central Atlantic near the Azores, but it’s not a significant threat to land. There are two other potential storms near Africa with a low chance of strengthening.

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