SHELBURNE, Nova Scotia – The Lee storm system weakened into a post-tropical cyclone as it closed in on New England and Atlantic Canada on Saturday, producing hurricane-force winds that knocked out power to almost 200,000 people.
The US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said in its latest advisory that Lee would make landfall on Saturday and was about 240km south-southwest of Halifax Nova Scotia, with maximum sustained winds of 110kmh.
Strong winds, coastal flooding and heavy rains were already occurring in parts of New England and Atlantic Canada, it added.
In the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, around 144,000 people were without power on Saturday after winds downed trees. In neighboring New Brunswick, 42,000 people had no electricity.
“Crews have been able to restore power to some customers… However, conditions are getting worse. In many cases, especially when winds are above 80kmh, it isn’t safe for our crews,” said Mr Matt Drover, of the Nova Scotia electric utility.
Winds have reached over 100kmh in parts of the west and over 90kmh in downtown Halifax, the largest city in the province, he said in a statement. Halifax airport was closed to all flights.
Authorities in Halifax, one of Canada’s biggest ports, urged people to stay at home and not go sightseeing.
“We’ve seen images of people near the waterfront, and it’s unnecessary, and it’s dangerous,” Halifax mayor Mike Savage told a briefing. “The worst of the storm hasn’t hit us yet.”
In a social media post, Nova Scotia police said they had received reports of drivers heading to the coast to watch the waves, which they said was dangerous.
Earlier, the Canadian Hurricane Centre projected Lee would make landfall in Nova Scotia some time after 3pm ADT (2am on Sunday, Singapore time) or later in New Brunswick with winds below hurricane force.
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