Province closes all provincial parks ahead of storm
Hurricane Irene as seen from the International Space station.
AMHERST - Nova Scotia closed its provincial parks Sunday, in anticipation of Tropical Storm Irene.
The powerful hurricane was downgraded to tropical status early today, but provincial Emergency Measures officials are warning Nova Scotians to remain cautious.
The large storm will affect the entire Atlantic region today and overnight into Monday.
"Let's all give this storm the respect it deserves," said Justice Minister Ross Landry. "Irene will bring heavy rain and high winds and the hazards those conditions can create. Please err on the side of caution."
The eye of Irene is over New Jersey this morning with the storm stretching over New England.
Tropical storm and winds warnings are in place for much of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.
Environment Canada said Cumberland County residents will see heavy rain changing to showers near midnight.
The weather office said there is also a risk of thundershowers this evening and after midnight. Winds are expected out of the southeast at 40 km/h gusting to 60 becoming south 60 gusting to 90 near midnight.
A wind warning has been issued for the entire region. Rainfall warnings have been issued in the western portions of the province and may be issued here as the storm moves closer.
Chris Fogarty, program supervisor at the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said Saturday that wind could be “channeled” through the Tantramar marsh and across to PEI. The southwest coastline of Cumberland County is also in the path of Irene’s high winds.
Provincial parks on mainland Nova Scotia closed at noon.
"Public safety has to be at the forefront when dealing with expected high winds and storm surge from this massive system," said acting Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell.
Full refunds will be given for camping park cancellations because of Tropical Storm Irene. Call 1-888-544-3434 for refunds and further updates about parks and the storm.
All locations will be re-evaluated for damage or safety concerns on a case-by-case basis.
"I can not emphasize enough how important it is to keep a safe and reasonable distance from coastal areas," said Landry.
Nova Scotians should already have restocked emergency kits and be prepared to be self sufficient for up to three days.
People should also review family emergency plans and secure property, ensuring anything that could become a projectile in high winds is put away or tied down.
As the storm gets closer today and overnight, it is recommended that people stay in their homes. People should not travel during the storm as flooding and debris can make road conditions unsafe. Thousands of flights on the eastern seaboard have been cancelled. Check arrivals and departures before going to the airport.
People should continue to monitor weather watches and warnings.
For updates and information on what to do before, during and after a major storm, visitwww.gov.ns.ca/emo.