There’s a 50-50 chance Earl will still be a hurricane when it slams into Nova Scotia tomorrow night or Saturday morning.

There’s also a five to 10 per cent chance Earl could still be whipping winds of 154 to 177 km/h as a Category 2 storm.

“This is definitely a storm that has the potential to be problematic,” said Chris Fogarty with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth.

Storms of this size cause power outages, tree damage, and possible flooding, he added.

It’s most likely Yarmouth will be hit first. Fogarty said they are predicting landfall at 9 a.m., but hurricanes are known to be early. Its current track puts Earl directly over Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Sea surface temperatures are running warm this year (about two degrees higher than when hurricane Juan struck in 2003), which is a factor if the storm travels over these warm waters, Fogarty said. The timing of the tide also plays a critical role in the storm’s intensity.

“The likelihood of it retaining more hurricane tropical structure is higher than usual (due to water temperatures),” he said.

Mayor Peter Kelly said the municipality is preparing for Earl’s arrival.“We have our crews standing by for trees, we have the water crews and the street staff in place,” he said yesterday. “We encourage people to get prepared just in case.”