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Post-tropical storm Arthur knocks out power for tens of thousands in Maritimes

A lobster fisherman slips but holds on while trying to secure lines to his fishing boat after the floating dock broke apart during Tropical storm Arthur in Escuminac, N.B. on Saturday, July 5, 2014.


Post-tropical storm Arthur hit Atlantic Canada with near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains Saturday, knocking down trees in its path, drenching southern New Brunswick and leaving tens of thousands across the Maritimes without power.

Chris Fogarty of the Canadian Hurricane Centre said the storm slowed over Saint John and Fredericton in New Brunswick at its peak intensity level.

Arthur was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm Saturday morning by the time it reached the Maritimes, but it still packed a punch, causing widespread power outages in parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

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Environment Canada measured wind gusts topping 116 kilometres per hour in the Halifax area.

More than 110 millimetres of rain fell on parts of southwestern New Brunswick. Fogarty predicted the rain would surpass the 150-millimetre mark in Saint Stephen, N.B., on the U.S. border.

The hurricane centre said the storm would end in the Maritimes overnight then track through the Gulf of St. Lawrence towards Newfoundland on Sunday.

Some consider the first-named storm of the hurricane season to be an early arrival in Atlantic Canada, but Fogarty didn't see that as a sign of things to come this year.

"We don't need to read anything into this storm arriving early that it will be a bad season," said Fogarty. "This could very well be the only storm we have this season, or there could be two more. We can't predict that far ahead."

Late Saturday morning, Nova Scotia Power said 113,000 of its customers were without power.

The utility in New Brunswick reported almost 100,000 outages by mid-afternoon. It warned that some residents should be prepared to be without electricity from 24 to 48 hours because of widespread damage caused by the storm.

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NB Power said the largest number of outages was in Fredericton where winds of more than 100 km/h had knocked down a number of large trees.

Police in Saint John said some local roads were closed because they were covered by flood water.

The storm caused flight cancellations and delays at the region's largest airport in Halifax. Other events scheduled for the weekend, including music festivals, were delayed or cancelled.

The RCMP in Prince Edward Island said a number of electrical poles had been knocked down by the storm and roads were blocked by downed trees.

Large offshore waves of up to nine metres were reported early Saturday morning off the southern coast of Nova Scotia. Closer to shore, the hurricane centre said waves of between three and five metres were recorded.

Before Arthur's arrival in Canada, it swiped the east coast of the United States on Friday but proved far less damaging than officials feared.

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It left tens of thousands of people without power as it swiped at North Carolina's Outer Banks, then brought lousy Fourth of July beach weather to parts of the northeastern U.S. as it veered out to sea towards Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Arthur struck North Carolina as a Category 2 storm with winds of 160 km/h late Thursday, taking about five hours to move across the far eastern part of the state. At the height of the storm, more than 40,000 people lost power in the U.S.

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