Strong winds move the palms of the palm trees at the first moment of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, Sunday Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Hurricane Dorian expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia on Saturday evening

HALIFAX — Hurricane Dorian is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia later today, unleashing a barrage of torrential rain, pounding surf and howling gusts reaching up to 140 kilometres per hour along the Atlantic coast.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre says hurricane warnings remain in effect for much of mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for P.E.I., southeastern New Brunswick and western Newfoundland.

“The storm is approaching … (and) it’s still a strong storm,” said Bob Robichaud, the centre’s warning preparedness meteorologist.

Even though Dorian was about 500 kilometres southwest of Halifax by Saturday morning, heavy rain and winds exceeding 90 kilometres per hour were reported in parts of southwestern Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick.

Dorian is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane this evening, before moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where it is expected to transform into a strong post-tropical storm.

Category 1 hurricanes churn out sustained winds between 119 km/h and 153 km/h. Robichaud said Dorian’s sustained winds were expected to range between 90 km/h and 120 km/h.

“That means numerous broken trees, uprooted trees, heavy rain and potential for flash flooding,” he said.

The centre of the storm is expected to land near or just east of Halifax, he said, adding that widespread power outages are likely.

Meanwhile, emergency officials in the Halifax region have called for a voluntary evacuation of homes and businesses along the municipality’s Atlantic shoreline.

With the forecast calling for a significant storm surge and wind-driven waves reaching 15 metres, low-lying coastal communities are facing potential flooding.

“We know there are going to be large waves approaching tonight,” Robichaud said. “From a precautionary standpoint, it’s good … for those people to head inland.”

Regional officials say the high-risk zones include the Sambro area, Peggys Cove and along the province’s Eastern Shore, which extends east of Halifax.

“Citizens are encouraged to be in alternative locations prior to the arrival of the storm,” the regional government said in a statement.

“While this is a voluntary evacuation, the municipality is urging everyone in high-risk areas to find alternative shelter arrangements for the weekend.”

The Canadian Red Cross was expected to open three evacuation shelters in the Halifax region.

With warnings circulating about extended power outages and flooding, many Halifax residents were stocking up on food, water and gasoline. Long lineups were reported Friday at Halifax-area gas stations and grocery stores.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada has also issued storm surge warnings for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, where there’s the potential for localized flooding during high tide later tonight.

In Fredericton, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs announced the cancellation of the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers that had been scheduled to begin Sunday in the port city of Saint John.

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