Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fiona knocks out power in Atlantic Canada


We're going to start in Canada, where more than half a million people on the country's Atlantic coast are still without electricity after Hurricane Fiona made landfall in the early hours of the morning with record-breaking wind speeds. Reporter Emma Jacobs has been monitoring the storm and is with us now from Montreal. Emma, thanks so much for joining us.


MARTIN: Can you give us a sense of the damage from Fiona?

JACOBS: Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia as a post-tropical cyclone, but it brought heavy winds and rain to a huge area spanning five provinces. One of the communities that looks like it was among the worst hit is a small town called Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. One woman there is missing after a number of houses were swept out to sea. In Nova Scotia, the province's premier, Tim Houston, actually in to the emergency update briefing held this afternoon and shared what he was seeing in his own rural community.


TIM HOUSTON: Roads washed out, including my own, an incredible amount of trees down and not just power lines across the roads - in many cases, entire power poles downed, snapped in half.

JACOBS: So with all the damage, officials say there are no confirmed deaths yet because of this storm.

MARTIN: And what about the time frame for getting power back on?

JACOBS: It's going to take days. For scale, this morning in Nova Scotia, 4 in 5 customers have lost power and nearly all households on Prince Edward Island. Those numbers have started to go down slowly over the course of the day, but the head of the utility in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Power, Peter Gregg, said this afternoon that conditions still weren't even safe for technicians to go up in their bucket trucks in some areas.

PETER GREGG: And we still do see some remaining significant wind in parts of the province and peak winds that we really haven't seen before in the province. And so as a result, damage has been widespread and severe. We've seen healthy trees uprooted.

JACOBS: Local authorities and the Red Cross were working to open shelters this afternoon, but in some places they had to move locations because there was no power.

MARTIN: I want to go back to that whole question of the wind speeds. When we report on hurricanes, it's usually the Gulf of Mexico or the East Coast of the United States. Emma, I just I have to ask, how unusual is it to get hurricanes on the Canadian coast and is climate change playing a role in that?

JACOBS: This area does get the remains of hurricanes from time and time to time, including Dorian in 2019. In this case, very warm conditions in the Atlantic Ocean allowed this storm to move north with a lot more force. It's broken a lot of records for recorded wind speeds across this region. There's a whole scientific analysis that's done now to try to attribute how much climate impacts have exacerbated any one extreme weather event, but what we know in general is that warmer water, warmer air create much more powerful, wetter storms. They also move more slowly after making landfall. And how fast storms move is important because in cases like this, a powerful storm can just sit over a region and pound it with rain and wind for hours. That not only causes more damage, but it makes recovery even more difficult.

MARTIN: That's reporter Emma Jacobs in Montreal. Emma, thanks so much for your reporting.

JACOBS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.