Boats were being pulled out of the water in Nova Scotia Friday as forecasters warned hurricane Lee could soon bring damaging winds, large waves, flooding and power outages.
Jennifer Chandler, commodore at the Chester Yacht Club, said she and her team have been working for days to prepare for what she anticipates will be a "significant storm." Chester is in Lunenburg County, which with neighbouring Halifax County was added Friday to the list of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick communities under a hurricane watch.
"When we get a direct impact, it hits us pretty hard here," Chandler said in an interview. "Over the last five days, most people have been taking their boats out if they can .... We'll be lashing down a lot of the gear. We've already taken all the furniture off our deck."
Hurricane Lee is expected to move into western Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick on Saturday, bringing heavy rains, high winds, and powerful waves, Environment Canada said in an update Friday morning.
As of about noon on Friday, Lee appeared to be transitioning from a Category 1 hurricane to a strong post-tropical storm, said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.
The storm was about 1,000 kilometres southwest of Halifax, and its maximum sustained wind speeds were about 130 kilometres an hour, he said.
"But this is a very, very large storm," he told reporters. "The time to prepare is now."
Lee was expected to make landfall on Saturday evening, anywhere from Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick to Shelburne County in Nova Scotia. But its impact is expected to be felt well before it hits land and as much as 300 kilometres out from the centre.
New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy coast and most of mainland Nova Scotia were under a tropical storm warning Friday morning. A hurricane watch was in place for Grand Manan Island and coastal Charlotte County in New Brunswick, and for Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, and Queens counties in Nova Scotia.
Environment Canada issues these watches when hurricane-force winds could threaten the area within 36 hours, according to the agency's website. A watch does not mean a hurricane is definitely going to hit. It's a warning to everyone in the area to be prepared to act quickly if it does.
Bonnie Morse, mayor of Grand Manan in New Brunswick, said preparations are also underway across the island in the Bay of Fundy. The Grand Manan council held an emergency preparedness meeting with police and other first responders on Thursday to plan for what may come, Morse said.
The island is used to big storms hitting in the winter, when the ground is frozen and the trees are bare. But right now, the ground is saturated from rain in the past few days, she said. And the trees are full and leafy, which means they could more easily knock out power lines if they fall.
“We're hopeful that this isn't going to be like Fiona was last year in Nova Scotia,” Morse said in an interview Thursday. “We’re hopeful that we’ll all come through it OK.”