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Hurricane Juan: A look back at one of Canada's most damaging storms

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Digital writers
theweathernetwork.com

Friday, September 27, 2013, 9:52 -

At 12:10 a.m. ADT, Monday September 29, 2003, Hurricane Juan made landfall in Nova Scotia between Shad Bay and Prospect. 

Juan arrived as a Category 2 storm and ripped northward through the province, weakening quickly as tropical cyclones do over land, arriving in Prince Edward Island as a marginal hurricane.

Juan claimed the lives of eight individuals: two when trees fell on their motor vehicle, two fishermen near Anticosti Island, three in a house fire speculated to have been started by candles used during the power outage, and one involved in relief work weeks after the storm. 

Hurricane Juan will be recorded as the most damaging storm in modern history for Halifax, N.S. (as measured by the widespread tree blow downs, power outages, and damaged homes). 

Hundreds of thousands of Maritimers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island lost power when the storm passed Sunday night. NS Power reported that the last of their affected customers had power restored by the morning of Sunday October 12 - just short of 2 weeks.

The last time that the city of Halifax was hit by the eastern eyewall of a hurricane (the worst winds in such a storm) was on August 22, 1893, when a Category 3 (sustained winds of about 180 km/h) storm made landfall in St. Margaret's Bay near 3.00 a.m. ADT.

Chris Scott is the Director of Meteorology at The Weather Network. He was working the night Hurricane Juan made landfall. 

“I remember it really starting on the Saturday before it made landfall,” said Scott. “And i looked at that storm on satellite and there was something that just twinged in that moment, thinking, 'oh boy, here we go.' This could be really something.”

That storm, known then as 'the second Great August Gale,' claimed 25 lives and sank the vessels, 'Dorcas,' and 'Etta Stewart.'

Hurricane Juan Quick Facts 

  • Juan began as Tropical Depression #15 about 470 km southeast of Bermuda at noon ADT, Thursday September 25. Six hours later it was upgraded to Tropical Storm Juan. 
  • 24 hours after being declared to be a tropical depression, Juan became a hurricane 255km east of Bermuda. 
  • Detailed investigation indicates that the storm's strength was a Category 2 hurricane… 85 knots (158km/h) sustained with gusts to over 100 knots (185kmh). Estimated diameter of the hurricane eye at landfall is 35km (from Hubbards to the west end of Halifax). 
  • Estimated central pressure of Juan at landfall was 973mb. 
  • The storm tracked almost due north, crossing the Northumberland Strait around 3 a.m. ADT (near or over the eastern portion of the Confederation Bridge) and crossed Prince Edward Island (landfall close to or east of Borden) in less than an hour. 
  • The highest sustained winds (2 minute mean) recorded by a land station were 151km/h at McNab's Island, in Halifax Harbour, with gusts to 176km/h at 12:24 a.m. ADT (communication failure at the McNab's site prevented weather office from seeing this data until later). 
  • The maximum wind core (eastern eyewall) went right over Halifax Harbour. 
  • Rainfall amounts in the vicinity of 25 to 40mm (from Juan only) were reported from around the Halifax Regional Municipality. 
  • Storm surge values ranged from around 1.0metre (as far west as Mahone Bay) to 1.5metres (measured by a tide gauge in Halifax Harbour) to more than 1.5metres in Cow Bay (based on damage). Halifax harbour recorded an all time record water level of 290cm which resulted in extensive flooding of the Halifax waterfront properties. 

Source: Environment Canada

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