(The Globe and Mail) - Hurricane Noel, the deadliest tropical storm of the year, is on track to hit the Maritimes with high winds and rains starting Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday, Environment Canada said Friday.
The most likely landfall is southern Nova Scotia.
The agency's Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., issued the forecast Friday morning. Canadian meteorologists think the hurricane will lose enough strength by the time it reaches Canada to be downgraded to a severe post-tropical storm, but they warn that it will still pack a punch with intense rains and strong winds.
"We expect it to reach Atlantic Canada as what we're calling now a dangerous storm. It will not be a technical hurricane that arrives," said Peter Bowyer, program manager at the centre.
Nevertheless, he said coastal areas could see gusts up to 130 kilometres an hour and about 100 km/h in inland areas. Ocean wave heights along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia on Saturday night will reach eight to 10 metres, with individual waves as much as twice those figures. By the time the storm reaches the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it will lose some of its intensity and wave heights will decline to three to five metres, although they will still be six to eight metres along the south coast of Newfoundland.
The heaviest rains will be in western Nova Scotia and southeastern New Brunswick, where amounts will range from 50 millimetres to 70 mm.
Forecasters say the Noel probably will not have devastating levels when it reaches Canada because it is arriving late in the season, when cooler ocean waters typically undermine the ability of these storms to remain intense.
As well, the risks of a storm surge along coastal areas are considered small because the storm is arriving at the low point in the monthly tide cycle.
The storm is "probably not going to create a storm surge problem for us, but we're continuing to monitor that," Mr. Bowyer said.
As a slow-moving tropical storm, Noel has wreaked havoc on the Caribbean earlier this week, where it hit the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas. Media reports have pegged the death toll so far at 115. On Friday, the storm - upgraded to a hurricane - was in the Atlantic off the northern coast of Florida.