Some of the worst storms to ever hit the Maritimes

A look at some of the biggest storms our Eastern provinces have weathered and the damage they caused.

The Public Gardens after Hurricane Juan hit Halifax hard in 2003. Photo: Thorfinn Stainforth.
The Public Gardens after Hurricane Juan hit Halifax in 2003. Photo: Thorfinn Stainforth.

Hurricane Juan or “The storm of the century” (September, 2003): Juan was one of the worst storms in Eastern Canada’s recent history, causing major damage in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. The highest sustained winds gusted at almost 180 km/h at McNab’s Island, where there was a two-minute sustained wind of 150+ km/h. Haligonians in particular will recall extensive flooding and waves of up to twenty feet in the harbour. Most damage was located in heavily treed areas and areas by water, but structural damage was considerate, many cars were hit by downed trees and a Halifax hospital was evacuated. Point Pleasant Park and the Public Gardens both closed to repair what it had lost and to deal with their loss of trees. The Nova Scotia Power Company, with help from Maritime Electric and NB Power, worked tirelessly for weeks to restore power to the province. And with the help of hundreds of Canadian Forces, the city began to recover. The Canadian Hurricane Centre has improved their hurricane warning system, as the catastrophic storm was not properly recognized before there was anything to be done.

In April 2004 and after White Juan, the Meteorological Service of Canada asked that the name “Juan” be retired from name rotation for Atlantic hurricanes. Maritimers will never again see a Hurricane Juan.

White Juan (February 2004): Though last year’s severe winter was often compared to White Juan, nothing can truly compare to those four February days in 2004. When Maritimers were hit with the Nor’easter, as much as 95 cm of snow fell with 120 km/h winds in some areas, shattering records and basically shutting down everything from schools to highways and governments. Halifax, Yarmouth and Charlottetown all broke records for highest recorded snowfall in a 24-hour period, having feet of snow to deal with at the end of the storm. Because Hurricane Juan hit fast and hard only a few months earlier, people regarded warnings and were much more prepared this time around, but that didn’t stop a four-day state of emergency being declared for the first time in both Nova Scotia and P.E.I. With curfews in place, emergency personnel and friendly neighbours worked together and worked hard to clear mounds of heavy snow.


Nova Scotia hurricane of 1873 (or the Nova Scotia Cyclone): In August, 1873, due to poor storm warning systems and just because of the time, Nova Scotia was hit with one doozie of a hurricane. The province lost more than 900 buildings, 1200 boats and 600 lives (many were sailors at sea, some 100 off the coast of Newfoundland) in the category 3 hurricane. Winds of 115 km/h caused millions of dollars worth of damage, without even taking into account the exchange rate today. When it was all said and done, destruction from the hurricane was blamed on poor communication between Toronto and Halifax officials.


Great ice storm of 1998: Tropical storms, rain storms, snow storms; they’re all terrible in their own way, but there is something unequivocally awful about ice storms. Though the ice storm in 1998 affected Ontario and Quebec more severely than East Coasters, thousands of New Brunswick homes and businesses lost power and were faced with days in freezing temperatures and ice covered streets. Millions of trees fell across the countries, while hundreds were injured in the storm.

Last winter: Last winter was awful, let’s just not talk about it.

Do you have any memories from Maritime storms you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below!

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