Igor's rains flood parts of northeast Canada

Image: Newfoundland experiences Hurricane Igor
Water rushes from a storm drain as heavy rains from Hurricane Igor hit St. John's, Newfoundland, on Tuesday.Paul Daly / The Canadian Press via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hurricane Igor pelted Canada's Atlantic coast province of Newfoundland with heavy rain Tuesday, flooding communities, washing out roads and stranding some residents in their homes.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Igor had transformed into a "post-tropical" storm, which has a different structure from a hurricane but still packs the same punch. The storm battered Newfoundland, on Canada's eastern coast.

In the Pacific, a mild tropical storm formed and was expected to cross the Mexican resort area of Baja California.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said the change in Igor's classification does not reflect a downgrade in the storm's intensity because winds have strengthened as the storm draws energy from another weather system to the west.

"Normally the cool North Atlantic chills out these hurricanes, but this one came up with a vengeance and met another low pressure system and the combined wallop of the wind and the water has been quite devastating," Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Williams said it caused tens of millions of dollars in damages and said it's the hardest they've been hit in recent memory. He said 14 communities have declared a state of emergency and said 27 communities are isolated as a result of washouts and road damages. He said the damage is significant.

"There are a lot of homes that are nearly completely submerged. Barns and structures have been washed away, completely out to sea," Williams said.

He said he would visit some of the affected communities Wednesday.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Boyd Merrill said they were investigating a report of a missing 80-year old man who was reportedly washed into the sea on Tuesday morning on Random Island when a driveway collapsed from underneath him due to heavy water flow. Merrill said police and the coast guard have not been able to access the island.

"This is not your normal heavy rainfall flooding. It's having a major impact," said Chris Fogarty, of the Canadian Hurricane Centre. He said more than 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain have fallen in some regions.

Marystown Mayor Sam Synard said the storm was overwhelming his community's capacity to cope.

"We've never seen such a violent storm before," he said. "We've lost sections of our main roads, completely washed out to sea."

Keith Rodway, a member of the Clarenville town council, said parts of his town had to be evacuated.

In the Pacific, a mild tropical storm formed and was expected to cross the Mexican resort area of Baja California later in the day. The Pacific tropical storm, Georgette, had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (65 kph), but was expected to weaken as it moved over the Baja California peninsula. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Georgette made landfall near or just east of Cabo San Lucas. A tropical storm warning was issued for southern Baja California.

Georgette was located about 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on Tuesday morning and was moving north-northwest near 9 mph (15 kph). A tropical storm warning was issued for southern Baja California.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Wayne Edgecombe said heavy rains that flooded a key bridge in southern Newfoundland have left the Burin Peninsula's 20,000 residents cut off from the rest of the province. Edgecombe said roads all over the peninsula have been washed out or submerged, but so far there have been no major crises.

About 20,000 people live on the Burin Peninsula.

Igor doggedly maintained maximum sustained winds near 80 mph (130 kph). On Tuesday, the storm center was about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north-northeast of St. John's, Newfoundland and moving to the northeast near 39 mph (63 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Schools have been closed and some flights at the St. John's International Airport have been delayed or canceled. The Canadian company Husky Energy evacuated workers from two semi-submersible drilling rigs working the White Rose offshore oil field, spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said.

Igor left behind power outages, grounded boats and downed trees in Bermuda and kicked up dangerous surf on the U.S. Atlantic coast. After brushing past Bermuda, which escaped major damage, Igor veered away from the United States, but forecasters said it could still cause high surf and dangerous rip currents along U.S. beaches.

A 21-year-old man died while surfing in the storm-churned waves off Surf City, North Carolina, where he was pulled from the water Sunday afternoon. Last week, high surf kicked up by Igor swept two people out to sea in the Caribbean — one in Puerto Rico and another in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Across Los Cabos — a string of Mexican resort towns at the tip of Baja California — boat owners scrambled to tie down yachts, while restaurant workers hauled in chairs and tables ahead of Georgette's arrival. Tourists canceled fishing trips at the last minute and hunkered down inside luxury hotels for board games and spa sessions.

Only light rain fell Tuesday morning, but winds kicked up 6-foot (2-meter) waves.

Meanwhile far out in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Lisa formed early Tuesday with winds near 45 mph (75 kph). The storm was located about 525 miles (850 kilometers) west-northwest of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa.