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Newfoundland and Labrador braces for ‘unprecedented’ flooding from Atlantic storm

Southwestern Newfoundland is forecast to see between 100 and 200 millimeters of rainfall by Wednesday evening. Global News graphic

Newfoundland and Labrador is bracing for heavy flooding, urging residents in parts of the province to avoid non-essential travel as a large storm makes its way across Atlantic Canada.

Widespread rainfall and wind warnings were in effect Tuesday for several regions in southwestern Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador.

Read more: B.C., Atlantic rainfalls a ‘glimpse into the future’ of Canada’s climate

Starting Tuesday night, the province is expected to experience strong wind gusts between 110 and 160 kilometers per hour as well as 100 millimetres to 200 millimetres of rain, which will continue until Wednesday evening, according to Environment Canada. In the elevated areas over the Port aux Basques area, upwards of 400 mm of rain is forecast.

“These are very extreme rainfall rates for this area of the country,” said Dale Foot, a meteorologist at Environment Canada in Gander, N.L.

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“There will be damage, washed-out roads and big impacts for the next couple of days” as a result of the “unprecedented” flooding, he told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia bracing for powerful rain and wind storm' Nova Scotia bracing for powerful rain and wind storm
Nova Scotia bracing for powerful rain and wind storm – Nov 22, 2021

An atmospheric river system – a similar phenomenon to what has wreaked havoc out west in British Columbia – is also brewing in Atlantic Canada.

Over the past week, flooding, landslides and mudslides in B.C. have damaged highways, triggered evacuations, stranded thousands of people and killed hundreds of animals. At least one person has died.

Because of the slightly different topography with fewer trees and more rocks in Newfoundland and Labrador, there is less potential for mudslides, but the river levels are going to go up, said Anthony Farnell, Global News’ chief meteorologist.

Southwestern Labrador will see up to “two months’ worth of rain falling in two days,” he said.

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Read more: Western Newfoundland facing multi-day deluge as storm envelops Atlantic region

The ferry system between Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador has been shut down for the next couple of days due to the extreme winds and waves, effectively cutting off road access to the island.

Provincial officials are urging people to take all necessary precautions.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety reminded residents to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel.

Emergency services are also preparing and dispatching resources ahead of the torrential downpour.

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“Our emergency operations centre is engaged, closely monitoring the adverse weather and its impacts on parts of the province,” N.L. Premier Andrew Furey said on Twitter.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro warned residents that power outages could take place.

While the heavy rain is expected to subside after Wednesday, another storm could hit over the weekend, said Foot with Environment Canada.

“After this storm goes through into Wednesday evening, there’ll be a bit of a break for clean-up, but it won’t be sunny skies and light winds.

“It’ll be unsettled, but the main danger period will be passed.”

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Rain is expected to subside after Wednesday evening. Global News graphic

Meanwhile, rainfall and wind warnings have also been issued for Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, southern New Brunswick, Iles-de-la-Madeleine and Quebec’s north shore.

Up to 75 mm of rain was expected across southern New Brunswick by Tuesday, and P.E.I. can expect up to 90 mm in isolated areas.

Nova Scotia Power was reporting more than 100 outages affecting more than 12,000 customers early Tuesday morning.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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