Arthur hits eastern Canada, causes power outages

Arthur hits eastern Canada, causes power outages

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Canada's Maritime provinces were cleaning up Sunday after Arthur struck with near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains, knocking down trees and leaving tens of thousands of people without power.

Arthur was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm Saturday morning before it slammed into Atlantic Canada, but the storm still packed a punch, drenching parts of New Brunswick and knocking out power to more than 250,000 customers at its peak intensity.

Crews were working Sunday to restore power to nearly 140,000 customers in New Brunswick and more than 90,000 in Nova Scotia. Prince Edward Island's power utility estimates nearly 5,000 customers were without power. Some residents have been told they could be without power for several days. Communities in the hardest hit areas of New Brunswick set up temporary charging stations so residents could power up their cellphones and other electronic devices.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre reported rainfall amounts in excess of 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) in southwest New Brunswick on Saturday, leading to localized flooding in cities such as Saint John and Fredericton.

Forecasters predict Arthur will continue to weaken as it tracks northeast across the Gulf of St. Lawrence with winds of 50 mph (80 kph). Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Doug Mercer predicted the storm's eye will make landfall in western Newfoundland Sunday afternoon before heading in the Labrador Sea. By that time, its winds should be down to 43.5 mph (70 kph).

NB Power said the largest number of outages was in Fredericton where winds of more than 62 mph (100 kph) had knocked down a number of large trees, leaving streets littered with debris.

In Fredericton, Mike Gange said the buffeting winds tore down a maple tree in his front yard, damaging roof tiles and a rain gutter as it fell. He said that as he drove around the New Brunswick provincial capital he saw about 25 homes with big trees knocked down.

Gange said he has not seen weather this severe in his 41 years in Fredericton.

"It's like a Tasmanian devil ripping through your backyard," he said. "It's crazy here ... at times it rains so hard you can't see 10 feet in front of you."

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said the highest wind gusts were recorded in Greenwood, Nova Scotia at 86 mph (139 kph) — the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane.

The storm also caused flight cancellations and delays at the region's largest airport in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Prince Edward Island said a number of electrical poles had been knocked down by the storm and roads were blocked by downed trees.

Arthur reached Atlantic Canada after swiping earlier at North Carolina's Outer Banks, where some vacationers were already back on beaches Saturday despite warnings that the water remained dangerous. The only road onto Hatteras Island was reopened to all traffic on Saturday afternoon. The island had been closed to visitors since early Thursday.

The New England states were largely spared from damage spawned by the storm as it moved north, but there were some scattered power outages in Maine and Vermont and reports of localized flooding in coastal areas of Massachusetts.