ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Canadian Hurricane Centre is warning that Gonzalo could still be hurricane strength by the time it reaches southeastern Newfoundland early Sunday.
Meteorologist Bob Robichaud said there is about a 30 per cent chance of the storm making landfall on the southern Avalon Peninsula. He said storm could track towards St. Mary’s Bay or about 150 kilometres southeast of Cape Race.
“Right now the storm is still a Category 2, down from a 4 about a day and a half ago, and we expect it to be right around hurricane strength as it passes just off the coast or very near the coast of Newfoundland,” said Robichaud from Halifax on Saturday.
Robichaud said winds could gust to 80 kilometres an hour, and hurricane-force wind warnings were in effect for the Grand Banks area.
He said tropical storm and rainfall warnings have been issued, with more than 50 millimetres expected. But Robichaud said those rainfall amounts are not unusual in Newfoundland.
“Generally, we’ll see rainfall amounts that they tend to handle quite easily,” said Robichaud. “For the most part, this type of wind and rain is not something that is that unusual for Newfoundland.”
Robichaud said its the storm surges that could wreak havoc for those living along the south coast.
“This storm is going to be generating some very, very high waves out in the open ocean,” he said. “Those waves should approach the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula during the early morning hours. We could get waves in the five to eight metre range, with potential for the odd one getting up to 10 metres.”
The centre said residents in those areas should watch for localized flooding.
Hurricane Gonzalo crushed trees, flattened power lines and damaged Bermuda’s main hospital on Friday night, but there were no deaths. Its winds and heavy surf continued to whip at the island Saturday morning as Gonzalo quickly moved northward.
— With files from The Associated Press