Prince Edward Island officials urge islanders to prepare for Hurricane Lee


As the Prince Edward Island Emergency Response Organization takes steps to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Lee, authorities are urging the island's residents, groups and businesses to do the same.

“The best way to contain panic is to be prepared,” said Nick Policelli, Prince Edward Island's director of emergency management, during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

The emergency response organization is at activation level one, meaning it has increased its monitoring, but officials stressed that no catastrophic storm is currently forecast for Prince Edward Island.

“It's very unlikely that this is anything resembling a Fiona or a Dorian,” Policelli said.

“We will learn more over the course of Saturday and the weekend and that is why we have only activated Level One.”

Emergency beds are ready

Additional emergency shelters have been set up in Montague, Charlottetown and Summerside in case people without adequate housing need them as the storm approaches.

Bloyce Thompson, Prince Edward Island's minister of public safety, said opening hours would depend on the track and severity of the storm, but bedding, food and water would be provided.

Hurricane Lee, September 14, 2023, mapHurricane Lee, September 14, 2023, map

Hurricane Lee, September 14, 2023, map

Hurricane Lee is expected to make landfall in Nova Scotia. (Jay Scotland/CBC News)

Regarding reception centers, Policelli said his staff is still examining which facilities will be available if needed.

“We contact each one by phone, the old school way, and make sure everything is taken care of,” he said. “We make sure, one, that they are open to people and two, what services they can offer to the islanders.”

The storm's forecast track has shifted eastward over the past 24 hours, which could mean greater impacts on Prince Edward Island.

“I don't want to scare anyone, but I want everyone to be prepared,” CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said Thursday. “This is still going to be a storm that we have to deal with.”

Tropical warnings September 14, 2023Tropical warnings September 14, 2023

Tropical warnings September 14, 2023

The effects of the storm are expected to be felt by islanders on Saturday afternoon. (Jay Scotland/CBC News)

The fuel depot in Irving is also preparing for the worst case scenario. After post-tropical storm Fiona, the power to the tanks failed, meaning the fuel could not be pumped into trucks for distribution across the province.

At Thursday's press conference, Thompson confirmed that a generator had arrived as an emergency power source for this storm.

“This storm is a big storm”

The forecast for Wednesday morning called for the storm to make landfall somewhere near the Maine-New Brunswick border, with the center of the storm passing west of Prince Edward Island. The updated forecast calls for the storm to brush the western end of Nova Scotia, cross the Bay of Fundy into New Brunswick, and pass over western Prince Edward Island's Prince County.

An updated weather forecast for Thursday afternoon predicts rainfall amounts between 10 and 30 millimetres for eastern PEI (Jay Scotland/CBC)

“This storm is big and will bring us heavy rains and strong winds,” Simpkin said.

An updated weather forecast for Thursday afternoon calls for wind gusts between 60 and 90 km/h, with rainfall amounts between 10 and 30 millimetres in eastern Prince Edward Island and 30 to 50 millimetres in the west. Rainfall amounts could be higher in the event of downpours.

However, the exact path of the storm is still unclear. Environment and Climate Change Canada said it was continuing to monitor developments and added that weather models were now slowly starting to come together.

Wind gusts between 60 and 90 km/h are possible Saturday and Saturday night. (Jay Scotland/CBC)

As of Thursday afternoon, the center of the storm was located about 1,650 kilometers south-southwest of Halifax and was moving north at 22 kilometers per hour.

Islanders are expected to feel the effects of the storm on Saturday afternoon, and wind and rain will continue through Sunday morning.