As we expected, the wind from this storm has been strong enough to knock down trees and cause widespread power outages in the U.S., but has not been strong enough to cause significant structural damage – this is overall very good news. The big fear for widespread flooding in New York due to storm surge did not materialize, although there is still significant flooding along the coast and we were very close to seeing a much more costly flooding scenario.
Rain will be the big story through the afternoon across upstate NY and New England where the greatest threat for loss of life exists – this type of low-end hurricane and now tropical storm never produces the spectacular wind damage that many expect – the problem is that these storms tend to bring more rain, causing flash flooding that claims lives.
Quebec will see the heaviest rain in Canada, and flooding is likely from Montreal into the eastern townships. Some basement flooding is the biggest concern in greater Montreal, while some smaller rivers may overflow their banks in the eastern townships causing more serious problems. The rain will quickly end tonight as the system moves away – this is not a devastating flooding situation, but is a significant threat.
The Maritimes will see rain today, but not enough for significant flooding. Our big concern is storm surge along the Fundy coast tonight, coupled with strong winds overnight and early tomorrow morning. The extent of storm surge is very difficult to predict. Fortunately, the storm is not stronger, but strong winds from the south and southwest may be enough to cause some problems. New Brunswick will take the worst of the winds and some scattered power outages are likely from downed tree limbs. The more western track of Irene will spare the HRM significant damaging winds, but there may be a few strong gusts tonight.
The worst case scenario with Irene has not materialized, but this is still a significant storm to contend with for the next 24 hours.