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The storm set to hit Atlantic Canada this week is drawing comparisons to "White Juan," a powerful snowstorm that battered the east coast ten years ago.

Atlantic Canada storm draws comparisons to infamous White Juan

Digital writers

Monday, March 24, 2014, 3:01 PM -

An 'intense and dangerous' Nor'easter is on track to hit Atlantic Canada later this week, bringing damaging winds and blizzard-like conditions.

The powerful storm is already drawing comparisons to White Juan -- the intense Nor'easter that battered Canada's east coast in February 2004 -- just five months after Hurricane Juan.

WINTER'S NOT DONE YET: Nor'easter targets Atlantic Canada this week

Parallels between the storms aren't ill-founded: 

Still, there are some key differences.

"Residents of the Maritimes are used to big storms – it’s something we wear as a badge of honour. But there are some storms which are memorable, and this Wednesday’s blockbuster could be in the category," says Weather Network Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott.

"We’re absolutely confident that Wednesday’s storm will be a big one for the Maritimes and Newfoundland.  However, White Juan wasn’t just a big one – it dumped unbelievable, titanic amounts of snow approaching 100 cm that brought the winter hardened city of Halifax to a complete stop for days. The upcoming storm has a very similar track and overall pattern to White Juan. However, Wednesday’s storm is strengthening sooner and will be moving more quickly. As a result, widespread snow totals in excess of 70 cm are unlikely. Of course, 30-60 cm is nothing to sneeze at and will bring travel to a halt on Wednesday."

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Wind will be another cause for concern, Scott says.

"The pressure of Wednesday’s storm will reach a greater depth than White Juan, meaning that the forces on the air around the system will be greater, creating strong winds. Widespread power outages are a real threat from this storm. The wild card is the impact from storm surge and ice pressure along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait.  

The coast impact from ice pressure is a real tricky aspect of this storm, but could turn out to be one of the headlines.  Wind and storm surge will likely be the main headlines from this storm in Newfoundland."

In other words, this won't be a repeat of White Juan, but the upcoming storm will certainly pack a punch.


Between February 18 and 19, 2004, just five months after Hurricane Juan, Canada's east coast was hit by a strong Nor'easter nicknamed "White Juan".

The blizzard dumped huge amounts of snow across the Atlantic provinces. Wind gusts of up to 120 km/h were recorded in some locations - and snowfall totals in some areas were almost a metre high.

A province-wide state of emergency was declared in Nova Scotia.

Halifax imposed traffic curfews in the days following the storm to help with the massive clean up.

Earlier this year, the federal government announced a final payment of $3.6 million has been made to the province of Nova Scotia to help with costs incurred during White Juan.

TUNE IN FOR LIVE COVERAGE: Chris St. Clair will on location in PEI while Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott and Meteorologist Mark Robinson will be monitoring the storm from Cape Breton. 

The repayment is all part of the disaster financial assistance arrangements program.

The program was put in place back in 1970 to help individual provinces following natural disasters.

The severity of White Juan made it the first and only winter storm for which Nova Scotia required this type of assistance.

"We've only had one White Juan or one blizzard claim for snow so it’s very rare to have a claim like this," says Paul MacNeil with Nova Scotia EMO. "We've never done one since then, but it was a major snowfall in Nova Scotia."

A total of 18 municipalities were impacted by the blizzard.

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