- Hurricane Maria nears landfall in Newfoundland, Environment Canada says
- Hurricane warnings are up for southern Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland
- High winds, rain and flooding are forecast for parts of Newfoundland and Labrador
Hurricane Maria neared landfall Friday afternoon in southern Newfoundland on its way to bringing 80 mph (130 kph) winds and heavy rain to the Canadian coastal province.
The storm, a Category 1 hurricane, was located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southwest of Argentia, Newfoundland, at 3:30 p.m. Newfoundland time (2:30 p.m. ET), said Environment Canada, the country's official forecasting service. It was moving northeast at about 55 mph (90 kph), the agency said.
The center of the storm was expected to track across the Avalon Peninsula through the remainder of the day, bringing gusts of up to 87 mph (140 kph) and up to about 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, Environment Canada said. It will then slide back into the ocean and merge with a low-pressure system off Labrador on Saturday, the agency said.
"As Maria merges with the large low to the north, high winds will blow throughout Labrador and much of the island portion of the province," the agency said in its afternoon advisory. "Winds could even gust to hurricane force over the coast of Labrador and the western portion of the island including the Northern Peninsula."
A hurricane warning was up for the southern portion of the Avalon Peninsula and a tropical storm warning was in effect for the northern portions of the peninsula as well as the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas.
In St. John's, where the peak of the storm was expected later Friday, officials were prepared, said Jennifer Mills, a city spokeswoman.
Crews have spent the past few days checking and clearing catch basins, filling sandbags and making other preparations against the likelihood of flooding in low-lying coastal areas, Mills said.
"We have everyone on standby," she said.
The region was hard-hit by Hurricane Igor a year ago. The storm brought record rainfall in many places, knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers and caused extensive flooding, according to Environment Canada.