Batten down the hatches as Saturday is likely to be wet and windy for most Nova Scotians.
Tropical storm Arthur is moving rapidly toward the province and is now expected to make landfall early in the morning July 5.
“Most of Nova Scotia will experience the storm probably before dawn, with a shot of heavy rain over probably a two-hour period of 30 millimetres of rain or more coming down quickly,” Chris Fogarty of the Canadian Hurricane Centre said July 4. The rain will be followed by strong winds throughout the day and into the night in Cape Breton. The entire province is under a tropical storm and wind warning.
Forecasters with the centre are now predicting the first named storm of the 2014 season will hit land as a strong, post-tropical storm in western Nova Scotia.
Read more local coverage here.
Midday July 4, the centre of Arthur was approximately 500 kilometres southwest of Nova Scotia with sustained wind speeds of 150 kilometres an hour, meteorologist Bob Robichaud said in a media briefing. That puts the storm just below a Category 1 hurricane.
“We’re quite certain the centre will be along the south coast of New Brunswick or along the Annapolis Valley,” Fogarty added.
The current track of the storm predicts the centre of the storm will pass over Yarmouth and Digby counties around 9 a.m. and be over eastern Kings County around 3 p.m.
“You have the heaviest rain moving to everywhere left of the storm track. That’s where you get your flooding events,” Fogarty said.
New Brunswick is expected to get the heaviest rainfall, with upwards of 100 mm of rain.
Nova Scotia will see heavy rain before daybreak, with up to 40 mms falling in a short period of time and showers likely to continue through the day.
For Nova Scotia, the worst of the storm could be winds of 60 to 90 km/h, with higher gusts of 100 km/h or more in the southwest of the province. The highest winds will be to the southeast of the storm’s centre throughout the day Saturday and into the evening.
“Winds will be strong out of the south, but some of the highest winds might be in the northwesterly flow just as the centre passes around midmorning,” Fogarty said.
“We could see hurricane force gusts through the midmorning for about two hours (around) Digby, Brier Island and Yarmouth,” he added.
Unusual start to hurricane season
Arthur will “be like a nor’easter with extra potency,” Fogarty said.
“There are some special dynamics going on with the atmosphere with this storm,” he added. “We have a cold front merging with the hurricane – that’s the complicating factor” and will lead to heavier rain.
The storm is not forecast to arrive with a high tide on either the Atlantic or Fundy coasts, minimizing the threat of extreme storm surges.
Wave heights are expected to be around five metres on the Atlantic coast and will be choppier than the usual swells caused by southern storms, Fogarty said.
“Usually, we have long waves from hurricanes,” he said. “These will be a bit more frequent… just by the nature of the wind with this storm.”
While the northeast track of the storm is similar to the Saxby Gale of October 1869, which led to storm surges and flooding along the Bay of Fundy, Fogarty said this storm is unlikely to be a repeat of that natural disaster.
“The Saxby storm was further west – the centre tracked over Maine,” Fogarty said. “I don’t think we have to worry about a repeat of that very extreme event.
The storm is similar to hurricane Earl, Fogarty said, which brought winds of 120 km/h four years ago when it hit Western Head in early September as a Category 1 hurricane.
While it’s rare to have a storm of Arthur’s strength coming into Nova Scotia waters in July, Fogarty said current weather conditions are more like mid- to late-summer.
The overall forecast is for a milder than usual hurricane season due to the El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean, he said, which is expected to bring a calming effect to the late-summer and fall Atlantic storm activity.
“This could be the only storm that we have this season,” Fogarty said.
Check on the current position of the storm and the TC Media live coverage here.