The season's first hurricane is expected to bring significant rain and wind to the Maritimes on Saturday, forecasters say, although it's too early to tell which areas will be hit the hardest.

Arthur became a Category 2 hurricane Thursday evening. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted it would swipe the coast early Friday with winds of up to 136 km/h.

The storm will likely make landfall in the Maritimes as a tropical storm on Saturday, said CBC meteorologist Peter Coade.

"The rain will likely develop overnight before daybreak Saturday," he said Thursday.

"If that course holds true and it makes landfall to the west of Halifax, Halifax and along the Eastern Shore could possibly get a bit of a break in the rain in the early afternoon and then it'll be picking up again Saturday night as the storm moves out."

Hurricane Arthur track

The Canadian Hurricane Centre predicts Arthur will make landfall in Nova Scotia on Saturday as a tropical storm. Arthur was classified this season's first hurricane on Thursday morning. (Canadian Hurricane Centre)

Nova Scotia will likely experience the highest winds, while New Brunswick and P.E.I. could see the heaviest rainfall, say forecasters.

"The wind will be picking up around daybreak on Saturday. Again, depending upon the actual track, it will initially be coming out of the southeast and as the storm approaches, it'll become southerly along the east coast," said Coade.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said rainfall amounts could be anywhere from 50 to 100 millimetres with a "good probability" of higher amounts in the northern track of the storm.

The Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia has a higher risk of storm surge and high waves, said the centre.

Hurricane Arthur has the potential to disrupt travel for thousands this weekend.

  • Air Canada has waived the fees associated with changing reservations for anyone whose destination is affected by the storm.
  • WestJet's policy is to waive the fees as well, if a tropical storm or hurricane advisory is issued for the destination.
  • Marine Atlantic hasn't altered its schedule yet. But if customers wish to make adjustments to their travel plans, change fees will be waived, the company said in an email to CBC News.

Cancellations roll in

Several weekend events in Nova Scotia have already been cancelled or postponed in anticipation of Arthur's landfall.

Mud Hero, an obstacle racing event at Ski Martock approximately 60 kilometres northwest of Halifax, has cancelled its Saturday event and is requesting all its competitors to arrive on Sunday.

"In addition to always providing you with the best and muddiest day ever, your safety is of utmost importance to us," organizers wrote on its website.

Earlier this week, the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, N.S., cancelled its annual event because of Arthur's approach. Organizers said it was "impossible" to guarantee public safety in those circumstances and apologized for the "horrible decision" they had to make.

Some of the international musicians set to perform at Stanfest will instead perform at two impromptu concerts in P.E.I., with all the proceeds going toward the artists' expenses. Islanders have offered up their homes to use as accommodation.