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September 29, 2003 - Hurricane Juan batters the Maritimes

Tuesday, September 29th 2020, 7:10 am - This devastating storm caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, blew down millions of trees, and claimed the lives of eight people.

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People in Nova Scotia still talk about Hurricane Juan, the powerful hurricane that slammed the province at the end of September in 2003.

The storm was at Category 2 strength when it made landfall between Prospect and Shad Bay, boasting winds of 158 km/h with a 35-kilometre-wide eyewall that stretched from Hubbards to Halifax's west end.

That's an enormous amount of raw power, and it caused severe damage to Halifax and much of the surrounding area. Many homes were damaged, as were numerous piers along the shore, along with the grounding or loss of "countless" fishing and pleasure vessels.

Hurricane juan destroyed home. House under construction destroyed by hurricane winds. Photo: Maritime Forces Atlantic

Millions of trees to the east and north of Halifax were blown down, and hundreds of thousands of people across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were left without power, with some outages lasting two weeks.

Though Juan was much reduced from its peak strength by the time it entered Northumberland Strait and struck Prince Edward Island, it was still a dangerous storm, knocking out power to two thirds of the Island.

Its impact coincided with a provincial election, and apparently did nothing to dampen voters' enthusiasm: Turnout was around 82 per cent, with some voters having to cast their ballots by candlelight. Then-Premier Pat Binns learned the news of his government's victory via a television plugged into a generator at his home.

Across the region, the storm left behind some $200 million in damage, and claimed eight lives: Two when a tree fell on a vehicle, two fishermen near Quebec's Anticosti Island, three in a house fire believed to have been triggered by candles during an outage, and one person in an accident during relief efforts in the following weeks.

On today's podcast, Chris Mei talks in greater detail about Juan's devastating impact on the Maritimes, 17 years later.

"This Day In Weather History” is a daily podcast by The Weather Network that features unique and informative stories from host Chris Mei.

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