Hurricane Gonzalo: Newfoundland girds for winds, waves and rain
Main body of hurricane expected to track southeast of N.L.
- Just past midnight Atlantic time Gonzalo was 580 kilometres southwest of Cape Race.
Hurricane Gonzalo is expected to track southeast of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula on Sunday morning, although it will dump a fair bit of rain over the island.
The brunt of the storm will be felt off the coastline, with implications for shipping lanes and the offshore oil industry.
There is also a concern about the impact high waves in some coastal communities, particularly between St. Bride's and Trepassey on the Avalon Peninsula.
Just past midnight Atlantic time the storm was centred 580 kilometres southwest of Cape Race, with maximum sustained winds 150 km/h as it moved northeast at 63 km/h.
Forecasters said it would pass close to Cape Race early Sunday. Officials said there could be some flooding.
Hurricane warnings were in effect for the Grand Banks area, where three major offshore oil installations are located. Operators of the Hibernia, Terra Nova and SeaRose sites announced no plans to evacuate the platforms. The three crews generally total more than 700 workers.
CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said the weather system is expected to bring a short but heavy burst of rain and strong wind gusts to the region.
"There is definitely more certainty today," Snoddon said. "As it gets closer to approaching our region, we are seeing a better consensus with the forecast models in terms of where this is going to track."
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- Hurricane Gonzalo: Storm surges, high waves 'inevitable'
"One of the things we are watching for is where the centre of this storm is, because that is where we are going to see the strongest winds, and where we are going to be seeing the heaviest rain," Snoddon said.
"With a centre track just southeast of the Avalon overnight tonight, that will keep the strongest wind gusts offshore, and that's a good thing because this storm will be packing wind gusts anywhere from 120 to 150 km/h. So it is going to be a concern obviously for [oil rig workers] offshore, and they are keeping a close eye on this."
The Hibernia Management and Development Company is in the process of developing new safety measures after four workers were on the GBS roof slab of the installation recently when high waves hit. Two men were knocked off their feet and nearly swept into the Atlantic Ocean.
'A quick shot'
Snoddon said wind gusts for parts of the Avalon could top 90 km/h on land as the system passes by Newfoundland's southeastern area.
"Overall amounts [of rain] when you hear them probably are not that impressive, 30 to 50 millimetres — we see that quite often in our neck of the woods. The problem is that it is going to be come down in basically a three- to six-hour period," Snoddon added.
Snoddon said forecasters will be watching the storm through Saturday to make sure there are no major changes in its path, and get a better handle on where Gonzalo's centre will track as it continues its approach to the island.
Snoddon said temperatures on Sunday afternoon should crest the high teens in St. John's, with light winds and sunny breaks in the forecast as Gonzalo moves out to sea.
Forecasters with the Canadian Hurricane Centre said on Friday that "very high winds" were expected on the Grand Banks, with wave heights predicted between 12 and 15 metres.
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