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Fallen palm trees lay over the Ports of Call Resort entrance after the passage of Hurricane Fiona in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands on Sept. 20.Vivian Tyson/The Associated Press

Residents of Atlantic Canada and the eastern edge of Quebec are being warned to brace for hurricane-force winds and intense rainfall as hurricane Fiona remains on track to slam into the East Coast late Friday.

Environment Canada says the storm could produce damaging gusts, coastal storm surges and pounding surf as it merges with a low-pressure trough and transforms into a powerful post-tropical storm on Saturday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the storm’s predicted track had it crossing eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton on Saturday afternoon, churning out sustained winds of 135 kilometres per hour – as strong as a Category 1 hurricane.

“It’s a very significant storm and has the potential to have severe impacts in terms of wind and rain and storm surge,” said Ian Hubbard, a meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, N.S.

Fiona, the first major hurricane of the season, could cause prolonged power outages and structural damage, Environment Canada said in a tropical cyclone statement. Buildings under construction will be particularly vulnerable, the statement said.

Jason Mew, a director with Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office, encouraged residents to fill-up on fuel, trim any weak tree limbs and check on their neighbours.

“I cannot stress this enough: be aware and prepared,” he told an online briefing Wednesday. “I think that everyone should take this storm seriously.”

Meanwhile, heavy rain is in the forecast for Thursday night and flooding is likely in some areas as a low-pressure system moves over the region and merges with Fiona.

The wind will pick up on Friday night and peak on Saturday.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to the north and west of Fiona’s track, which is forecast to cross eastern Nova Scotia, southwestern Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These areas can expect to be drenched with 100 to 200 millimetres of rain by Saturday.

Puerto Rico braced for another day of heavy rainfall and life-threatening flooding from Hurricane Fiona on Sept. 19, a U.S. government agency said, one day after the island was hit by a widespread power outage.

Reuters