Wind, rain pick up on Magdalen Islands as Dorian hits Maritimes

Environment Canada is forecasting up to 60 millilitres of rain could fall on the Magdalen Islands over the next 24 hours, with sustained wind gusts between 90 and 120 kilometres per hour.

'Hurricane-force' winds expected overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning

Winds on the Gulf of St. Lawrence started picking up around noon on Saturday. (Martin Toulgoat/Radio-Canada)

As post-tropical storm Dorian rips across the Atlantic Coast, heavy rainfall and strong winds are picking up in the Magdalen Islands, leaving several Quebec residents without electricity. 

Dorian was initially categorized as a hurricane, but was downgraded to a post-tropical storm Saturday evening. 

Still, Environment Canada has maintained a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning for the Magdalen Islands as well as the Lower North Shore region. 

Winds are already gusting close to 100 km/h in the Magdalen Islands, Environment Canada meteorologist Ivan Dubé said Saturday evening. 

"The worst is yet to come but it's already bad out there," Dubé said. 

As a result of the storm, at least 174 Hydro-Quebec customer in the region lost electricity by 8:30 p.m. Saturday. 

"Hurricane-force" winds are expected to reach up to 120 km/h in the islands with wind up to 110 km/h in Blanc-Sablon overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning, he said. 

Up to 50 millimetres of rain is expected for the region. 

The archipelago is also under a storm surge warning — high waves combined with the surge may cause damage and localized flooding along the coast. 

Windsurfers on the Magdalen Islands went out for a few last runs Saturday afternoon before the storm hit. (Martin Toulgoat/Radio-Canada)

Several residents and tourists in the area have left their chalets and houses as a precautionary measure. 

For those looking for shelter, Vent du Large, a restaurant on the Havre-Aubert Island, is opening its doors to residents until early Sunday afternoon. 

While the region is accustomed to dealing with powerful storms, Jonathan Lapierre, the mayor of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, is asking residents to remain cautious.

"We're crossing our fingers that what will end up hitting the islands will be a strong windstorm, like the ones we're used to," he said.

He also asked that people put away anything that could become a projectile. 

Hydro crews ready

Hydro-Québec crews — 25 workers and a dozen utility trucks — have done preparatory work in the Magdalen Islands to solidify the grid, said spokesperson Jonathan Côté.

A severe windstorm in November 2018 knocked out the power grid for several days.

Côté said they learned from that experience, and made sure crews were in place before the bad weather hit to avoid weather-related travel issues.

Tourists and residents kept away from Magdalen Island beaches as winds picked up Saturday evening. (Martin Toulgoat/Radio-Canada )

One of the main concerns for officials remains the risks of erosion.

After the 2018 storm, several roads were damaged, and high waves also pushed over some of the electricity polls.

"Some of our poles are right next to the water," said Côté.

"Last time some of them were actually in the water because of all the erosion — so this poses a specific challenge that we have to deal with."

Here are items the Red Cross is suggesting people should have at home to be prepared:

  • Water.

  • Food (non-perishable) and manual can opener.

  • Special needs such as medications, baby needs, extra glasses, etc. 

  • Important family documents (i.e. copies of birth and marriage certificates ,passports, licences, wills, land deeds and insurance).

  • A copy of your emergency plan.

  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries.

  • Battery-operated or crank radio.

  • Extra keys, for your house and car.

  • First-aid kit.

  • Extra cash.

  • Personal hygiene items.

  • Pet food and pet medication.

  • Cell phone with extra charger or battery pack.

With files from Quebec AM and Radio-Canada


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