Storm preparations underway in Maritimes
Storm preparations are underway across the Maritime provinces after emergency measures organizations in each of the three provinces issued a severe weather warning for the region, particularly along the Northumberland Strait.
Fifty to 120 millimetres of rain and winds up to 100 kilometres an hour are expected, followed by a storm surge that will likely be above flood level on Wednesday afternoon.
The storm warning caused Marine Atlantic to cease operations and postpone trips.
"Based upon the current forecast, it is anticipated that Marine Atlantic vessels will remain in port until late Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011," a company release stated.
Waves of eight to 11 metres are expected.
The company asked its customers to refer to its website for current schedules for North Sydney and Port aux Basques terminals. Customers holding reservations for impacted crossings will be rebooked. Customers will be contacted to inform them of new crossing times.
Radio-Canada meteorologist Bill Bourque said a low-pressure system over New England is responsible for the storm.
Flooding rains have already hit Boston and New Hampshire.
In New Brunswick, the coastal area from Richibucto to Cape Tormentine is most vulnerable.
"We are going to have high tides occurring at the same time as these extreme winds, and so we can expect storm surge flooding to occur," Bourque said.
Meteorologists compared the storm to last December's storm surge, which caused significant damage to the region's infrastructure.
Bourque said that the storm appears to be a dangerous one.
"We should be prepared for the worst. To say it's going to be as severe as the one we had last year, I really don't know that. I can simply tell you everything is pointing to that."
Weather officials said to expect choppy waves and pounding surf.
Karl Wilmot of New Brunswick's emergency measures organization urged New Brunswickers to prepare for the worst.
He said people in flood-prone areas should make sure they get what they can to higher ground, have their emergency kits handy — including 72 hours worth of water, candles, cash and prescriptions in case of power outages — and make sure anything that could be blown away is put away.
Wilmot also said home owners should double check their sump pumps to ensure they are working properly.
He recommended that people who have left camping trailers on coastal lots or in flood-prone areas for the winter move them in advance of the storm.
Shediac Mayor Raymond Cormier said last December's surge, which caused erosion and flooding, put his municipality on its toes.
This time he said town employees and equipment are on standby.
"We had a scare last December when we had to close part of Main Street, so we take it very serious now. I know I'm more anxious now when they are calling for a storm than I was before."
The province's emergency measures organization advised that people secure their belongings, move things along flood prone areas to higher ground and have emergency kits handy.
The heaviest rains are expected in Tignish, though rains have already begun in much of Prince Edward Island.
Northumberland Strait swell waters are expected to cause erosion and potential property damage.
Strong northerly gusts could reach 100 km/h and rainfall between 60 and 100 millimetres is expected.
Environment Canada's Linda Libby said rain will begin Wednesday evening and continue into Thursday. Water levels will also increase, she said.
Charlottetown has recorded 76.2 millimetres of rain since October began. The average for the month is 105.2 millimetres.
The storm is expected to have a broad impact in Nova Scotia.
"The entire province is covered by a warning of one form or another," said meteorologist Peter Coade.
The storm surge is expected to hit the eastern part of the province including Pictou, Antigonish County and Inverness County.
Halifax Regional Municipality is expected to receive 80 to 100 millimetres of rain with wind increasing overnight to 100 kilometres per hour by late afternoon Wednesday. There is potential for localized flooding.A longer-than-normal commute is expected for mid-week drivers around Halifax. Stanfield International Airport has warned travellers that flights may be disrupted because of inclement weather.
Halifax Water has already sent crews out to clear the system of leaves and other debris. It has advised that homeowners check their own properties to clear drains and catch basins.
Certain parts of the capital could fare worse than others. Cow Bay Road in Eastern Passage, for example, is prone to flooding.
"There is still a fair amount of capacity in the lakes and rivers of the province [to withstand the rainfall], so the wind is probably the biggest concern here," said Dave Roper of Nova Scotia's emergency management office.
"There was a storm that hit the province last December that caused significant damage to roads and some bridges that was caused by a storm surge and high levels of rain, and this storm is exhibiting very similar characteristics."
Roper advised Nova Scotians to "practice good habits as far as driving on the road as there'll be no doubt, with that amount of water, the potential for slippery roads."
Drivers are urged to slow down to prevent hydroplaning.
Roper said cottage and boat owners along the Northumberland Strait should take precautions.
"They want to make sure they tie up boats or docks and ensure that any furniture is put away or tied down."
He said people should steer clear of the strait and its shores.
"The potential for a mishap is certainly increased," he said.
The storm is expected to pass by Thursday afternoon.Halifax and Charlottetown have already come halfway or more to their October rainfall averages.