After ravaging Bermuda, Hurricane Fiona is hurtling north into eastern Canada and threatens to become the most powerful storm to ever hit the region. A second system, meanwhile, is developing in the Caribbean and could hit Cuba and Florida early next week.
With winds of 200 kilometers per hour, Fiona is on pace to hit Nova Scotia Saturday as a Category 2 hurricane, expected to leave a swath of destruction, according to the US National Hurricane Center. “This could be the worst storm they’ve ever seen,” said Don Keeney, a meteorologist at commercial forecaster Maxar.
The system in the Caribbean, currently a tropical depression, is expected to grow into a hurricane early Monday, sweep over western Cuba on Tuesday and hit Florida’s west coast on Wednesday.
The two storms are a powerful sign that the Atlantic hurricane season is coming back to life after months of lull. Forecasters had predicted an unusually active year. But for the first time in 25 years, the Atlantic Ocean didn’t cause a single tropical storm in August. Now September has given rise to three hurricanes, and a fourth is threatening to form.
Fiona has already carved a swath of destruction across the Caribbean, causing flooding, landslides and power outages in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Hurricane warnings have been posted for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
Fiona could cause between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in damage in Canada, according to current forecast, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler at Enki Research.
The storm in the Caribbean, likely to be called Hermine, is on its way to pass just west of Havana and hit Florida near Fort Myers. There is a chance the orbit will change and possibly shift further west in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm’s current forecast keeps it away from offshore oil and natural gas production in the western Gulf.
The storm could cause about $12 billion in losses in western Florida and Cuba, Watson said. The damage can be particularly severe for citrus growers, who are about to harvest their crops.
“If it does hit, this is the worst time of year for that to happen,” Keeney said.
Florida is the largest orange juice producer in the US. Orange juice futures were up 1.2% in New York on Friday, against a broad decline in commodities.
Forecasters also keep an eye out for Tropical Storm Gaston near the Azores and two tropical waves moving east from Africa toward the Caribbean.
Photo: Damage at a restaurant on the Malecon de Samana, after the passage of Hurricane Fiona, in Samana, Dominican Republic, on September 20, 2022. Photo credit: Erika Santelices/TUSEN/Getty Images
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