Nova Scotia·Updated

Storm warnings in place for Irene

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island won't get the heavy sheets of rain like New Brunswick, but high winds from Irene could pose a big problem, warns CBC meteorologist Peter Coade.
Jeff Sunderland, Digby Harbour manager marks where water is expected to reach with possible high tides and storm surges. (Craig Paisley/CBC)
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island won't get the heavy sheets of rain like New Brunswick will, but high winds from Irene could pose a big problem, warns CBC meteorologist Peter Coade.

Irene was moving toward Eastern Canada on Sunday, after barrelling through the eastern U.S. first as a Category 1 hurricane and then as a tropical storm.

By midday, parts of southern New Brunswick had already been drenched with 50 millimetres of rain. The massive storm also soaked a large swath of southern Quebec. 

Send us your photos and videos of the storm 

Coade said Nova Scotia wouldn't get as much rain.

"For mainland Nova Scotia I'm looking for the highest amounts down around Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne areas, about 20 to 40, maybe 45 millimetres of rain, and the rest of the mainland in the order of 20 to 40," he said.

Wind warnings were in effect for mainland Nova Scotia. Gusts of up to 110 km/h were expected late Sunday night.

Coade said the winds would peak at about midnight.

"As the storm moves closer, the wind is going to continue to increase. We've already had some extremely high gusts, and that really is going to be the biggest problem, I believe, for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island," he said.

Environment Canada said a wind gust of 93 km/h was recorded in Yarmouth at midday.

Nevertheless, CBC reporter Sabrina Fabian saw people swimming in the area before the sun went down. She said people showed up later to watch the crashing waves.

"The waves are quite high and they're pounding against the rocks," Fabian reported at 9 p.m. AT.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for the Fundy coastline and the Atlantic coast southwest of Porters Lake.

Digby Harbour Port Association manager Jeff Sutherland said he expected water levels to reach the height of the wharf around midnight Sunday. He expected water to reach as high as 10 metres — about two metres higher than normal.

"Our concern at that point becomes damage to any of our structures, or anything like that, stresses that the facility hasn't seen ever or in decades for sure," said Sutherland.

People hit the beach near Yarmouth Sunday evening. (Sabrina Fabian/CBC)

David Rodenhiser, spokesman for Nova Scotia Power, said the utility was watching Irene closely.

"We have crews on standby overnight in case they're needed and then our full complement will start work at 6 a.m. tomorrow. At that time we'll have 190 power line technicians stationed throughout Nova Scotia," he said.

Rodenhiser said the utility also has access to contractors if needed.

Outages in P.E.I.

In P.E.I., there were a few outages in the Canoe Cove area along the Northumberland Strait. An exact number was not available.

Coade said like Nova Scotia, P.E.I. could expect isolated showers or thundershowers overnight.

There was a wind advisory for the Confederation Bridge, though no restrictions on traffic were in place.

The Atlantic Canada International Airshow in Summerside cancelled all flying shows.

Flight cancellations

The storm was disrupting flights in the region on Sunday. In Halifax, flights to Newark, Boston and Philadelphia were cancelled.

Earlier in the day, David Lowery and Gail Maatman were waiting at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in an effort to try to fly around the storm.

"We were supposed to fly from Reykjavík, Iceland, to Boston to Philadelphia to State College, Pennsylvania today, but we tried to get out of Reykjavík yesterday and took the first flight we could get out, which was to Halifax, so we stayed in Halifax last night and today we're supposed to go to Toronto to Washington to State College, so we're kind of circling around the hurricane," said Lowery.

"We're trying to," added Maatman with a laugh.

All provincial parks in mainland Nova Scotia were closed Sunday.

Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said the parks won't be reopened until they could be checked for damage after the storm.

Surf's up

Though the beach at Lawrencetown Point was closed, it didn't stop surfers and wave watchers from gathering.

Kevin Gionet travelled with friends from New Brunswick to take advantage of Irene's swells, even though Saturday was the first time he'd ever been on a surf board.

"Me and a couple buddies, we came down just for the weekend specifically for this reason, we went out yesterday and the waves were significantly smaller yesterday, it was about two feet yesterday, easy to learn," said Gionet.

"I'm just stepping out of the water now because it's getting pretty rough — they're reaching about eight feet — for me it's a little too much."

Surfers say conditions won't peak until Monday, once the storm moves through.

"Not a whole lot of wind I guess, lots of swell, that's really what makes it more, the conditions really look good," said Nathan McGougan, an experienced surfer.

The "clean" waves McGougan was looking for came with the first signs of Irene's swell early Sunday and are expected again once the storm passes.

Surfers like McGougan were on the move Sunday checking out other surfing havens at Cow Bay.