River Watch ends

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Flooding along the St. John River in Maugerville, 23 April 2019 (5th Canadian Division/Facebook)

The annual River Watch in New Brunswick has ended for the 2020 season.

The program was launched in early March and monitors water levels on rivers in the spring with emergency officials providing regular updates on the potential for flooding.

After historic flooding along the St. John River in both 2018 and 2019, thankfully this spring was much quieter with no major events recorded.

It’s a blessing in disguise since the province has been coping with the coronavirus pandemic with a state of emergency in place since 19 March.

Flooding in Fort McMurray

Fort McMurray under floodwaters, 27 April 2020 (Instagram/d_nyce.entertainment)

Almost four years after wildfires ravaged Fort McMurray, the northern Alberta city is now dealing with devastating flooding.

About 13,000 residents have been evacuated after ice jams on the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers forced floodwaters into the city.

Provincial officials say there are extensive ice jams on the rivers which will need to thaw before the flooding subsides.

The mayor says this is a one-in-a-100-year flood which unfortunately occurred this year on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NB River Watch Launches

Flooding in Fredericton, 24 Apr 2019 (GNB/Yerxa)

It’s a sure sign of spring…

New Brunswick’s annual program monitoring the status of rivers, ice jams and other flood issues officially launched today.

Historic flooding in 2018 and 2019 devastated many communities along the St. John River although individuals and municipal governments were better prepared last year.

Higher than normal water levels forced the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton for almost a week and even longer the year before.

Officials say a variety of factors contribute to flooding including precipitation, snow pack, air temperatures and river ice.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2019

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Hurricane Dorian damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Canada is a land of weather extremes and this year has been no exception with frigid winter cold and stifling summer heat which brought wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes.

Environment Canada has compiled its annual list for 2019:

  1. Another record Ottawa River flood
  2. Destructive hurricane season especially Dorian
  3. Snowy Prairie autumn
  4. Bitterly cold February nationwide
  5. Record heat continues in the Arctic
  6. Too dry early, too wet later on Prairies
  7. Blustery Halloween in the East
  8. Spring never arrives in Eastern Canada
  9. More flooding along the St. John River
  10. Fewer wildfires but more hectares burned

Here are some weather highlights for Atlantic Canada:

  • New Year’s Day takes Newfoundland by storm
  • January Maritime storm included every type of weather
  • Winter storm forces Moncton residents outside
  • February storm causes road closures in Labrador
  • Pre-Valentine’s storm across the Maritimes
  • March starts out stormy in Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland’s icebergs please tourists and locals
  • October “weather bomb” drops lots of rain

Wind & rain cause damage

Roof damage at apartment building, Heather Way, 10 Dec 2019 (City of Saint John)

Strong winds and heavy rain from a strong low pressure system caused damage to properties and localized flooding in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The Saint John area was hard hit with wind gusts up to 95 km/h which led to power outages and roof damage to at least two apartment buildings.

No one was hurt but all tenants were evacuated and assisted by the Red Cross.

Many roads were closed due to flooding or fallen trees and there were voluntary evacuations in Sussex in low lying areas.

The storm also brought mild, record-breaking temperatures with highs of 11°C in Edmundston and 12°C in Bathurst and Woodstock.

Greater Moncton hit 13.7°C but the record for 10 December was 15°C from 1957.

Rainfall totals (in mm) as of 8am on 10 December 2019:

  • Mechanic Settlement, NB  94 mm
  • Saint John Airport  63 mm
  • Kejimkujik NP, NS  53 mm
  • Dorchester, NB  50 mm
  • Yarmouth, NS  43 mm
  • Halifax (city)  48 mm
  • Fredericton  33 mm
  • Greater Moncton 26 mm

Peak wind gusts (km/h):

  • Cheticamp area, NS  135
  • Sydney  106
  • Halifax (Shearwater)  102
  • Saint John Airport  95
  • Lunenburg  92
  • Grand Manan, NB  89

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Heavy rain may cause flooding

Snow settles in Moncton, 05 Dec 2019 (Dearing)

The latest low pressure to invade the Maritimes is bringing heavy rain and strong winds to Southern New Brunswick and Northern Nova Scotia.

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning with up to 70 mm possible especially along the Fundy coast and strong winds gusting up to 90 km/h.

Meteorologists say that much rain is a lot for frozen ground to absorb and along with an existing snowpack could create localized flooding.

After a few days with below freezing temperatures, the small amount of snow in Greater Moncton has been taken away by the rain and a mild high of 12°C.

The forecast is calling for much colder air behind this system with some snow likely on Wednesday.

Strong fall storm coming

An intense low pressure system is heading to the Maritimes.

Heavy rain will start during the morning hours in Greater Moncton and strong winds will develop by midday.

Environment Canada says rainfall amounts could reach 50 mm while easterly wind gusts of 70 km/h or higher are likely.

Some trees may be at risk of falling after being weakened by Hurricane Dorian last month.

Many leaves will undoubtedly drop which could plug storm drains causing localized flooding.

Storm cleanup continues

Dorian crane (Coastal Elite Wikipedia)

Construction crane collapses during Dorian in south end Halifax, NS, 10 Sept 2019 (Coastal Elite/Wikipedia)

No one expected Dorian to batter Southeast New Brunswick with such intensity.

Hurricane-force winds and a powerful storm surge along the Northumberland Strait wrecked wharves and fishing boats, tossed yachts like toys at a marina, flooded campgrounds and destroyed camper trailers.

For the first time in its history, Parlee Beach has been closed to the public after boardwalks and ramps were damaged posing safety risks for visitors.

The cleanup at Murray Beach may take weeks where dozens of fallen trees closed the campground, kitchen shelters were flattened and the beach itself was heavily eroded.

Torrential rain washed out sections of some roads including in Salisbury where a car plunged into a gaping hole.

Public works crews in Greater Moncton have been clearing away downed trees and branches which were responsible for most power outages.

Five days after Dorian, thousands are still without electricity in Nova Scotia where century old trees toppled onto homes and vehicles.

Many city parks remain closed in Halifax due to debris and efforts begin to dismantle a construction crane which collapsed during the strong winds.

Dorian packs powerful punch

Dorian damage in Halifax’s West End, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Hurricane Dorian has left a path of destruction across the Maritime Provinces despite being downgraded as it crossed the region.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre says Dorian was an intense post-tropical storm as it made landfall at 7:15pm ADT Saturday in Sambro, 25 km southwest of Halifax.

Dorian brought destructive winds, flooding rains and powerful storm surges to much of Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

A construction crane collapsed and century old trees toppled onto homes, businesses, vehicles and streets in Halifax.

Public works staff are scrambling to clean up the mess and power crews are trying to restore electricity to the tens of thousands without it.

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Crews clean up storm damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Rainfall totals (mm) as of 11am ADT Sunday:

  • Oxford, NS. 138
  • Halifax (Lower Sackville), NS. 138
  • Greater Moncton Airport, NB. 121
  • Miramichi, NB. 115
  • Kentville, NS. 110
  • Summerside, PEI. 90
  • Saint John, NB. 82
  • Fredericton, NB. 75

Peak wind gusts (km/h) as of 11am ADT Sunday:

  • Beaver Island (eastern shore), NS. 145
  • Yarmouth, NS. 130
  • North Cape, PEI. 122
  • Halifax (city), NS. 120
  • Miscou Island, NB. 106
  • Sydney, NS. 104
  • Saint John, NB. 102
  • Greater Moncton Airport, NB. 100

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Dorian devastates Bahamas

Bahamas Dorian

View from hotel balcony in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas, 02 Sept 2019 (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

A number of fatalities have been reported as slow-moving Hurricane Dorian wreaks havoc in the Bahamas with more 13,000 homes severely damaged.

The strongest storm to ever hit the island nation – a Category 5 with sustained winds of 320 km/h – made landfall in the Abaco Islands with drenching rain and massive storm surges creating devastating flooding.

Downgraded to a Category 4 storm but still very dangerous, hurricane watches and warnings have been posted along the southeastern United States coastline from Florida to South Carolina.

In current projections, the U.S. National Hurricane Center suggests Dorian could reach the Maritime Provinces by Saturday.