A look at how some historic Canadian hurricanes compare to Fiona

Jessica Smith, The Canadian Press

Posted on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 7:05 AM m. WBS

As people in Atlantic Canada braced for Fiona’s imminent arrival on Friday, some weather experts were studying past hurricanes and storms for information on what might happen.

Chris Fogarty, senior meteorologist and program manager for the Canadian Hurricane Center, said meteorologists often like to look back at historical events when preparing forecasts.

“We want to see if we can compare (an incoming hurricane) to past events to give people an idea of ​​what we’re going to see,” Fogarty said.

Fogarty offered his thoughts on some of the notable hurricanes and post-tropical storms that made landfall in Canada and the impact they had.


Hurricane Dorian, a storm that made landfall in Atlantic Canada on Sept. 7, 2019, was “similar in a way” to Fiona, Fogarty said, in that it was a hurricane that transitioned into a northeastern storm. . Dorian’s impacts were made worse by torrential rains and strong winds from Tropical Storm Erin a week earlier, according to Environment Canada records.

Dorian was not as intense as Hurricane Juan in 2003, but the winds, rain and waves it brought destroyed more physical infrastructure in Nova Scotia than any other storm in the past. It was the most damaging storm in Nova Scotia Power’s history, according to Environment Canada records, with 80 percent of customers affected. Dorian was still much weaker than Fiona was expected to be, Fogarty said.

2010 — Igor

Environment Canada files list this storm as the worst tropical storm to hit Newfoundland in 75 years. It brought excessive rainfall and winds reaching 172 km/h that downed trees, caused power outages and structural damage to buildings, and caused widespread flooding.

Hurricane Fiona is likely to be similar to Igor, Fogarty said, which was a “very powerful storm.”

“(It had) a lot of rain, strong winds,” he said. “But (meteorologists) don’t see the numbers, some of the computer model numbers with Fiona, that we saw with Igor in 2010. That means (Fiona) looks like it’s going to be worse than even (Igor).”

2003 — John

This “storm of the century” hit Halifax directly on September 29, 2003, according to Environment Canada. A paramedic in Halifax was killed when a tree blew onto his ambulance. An estimated 50 to 100 million trees fell in Nova Scotia in a two-hour period. Environment Canada says that Hurricane Juan was “the most damaging storm in modern history for Halifax”, when measured by widespread tree fall, power outages and damaged homes.

“The wind speed at Juan, it was around what we predicted with Fiona,” Fogarty said. “But with Fiona, a larger area will be affected… Juan was probably a tenth of Fiona’s size.”


Hurricane Edna formed southeast of Barbados on the afternoon of September 2, 1954, and made landfall in New Brunswick as a Category 1 on September 11, according to Environment Canada. It weakened to tropical storm strength over southern Quebec and Labrador before heading out to sea. With winds up to 100 mph, it killed one person in Nova Scotia and injured scores of others.

“I would say we probably have to go back to at least 1954 to imagine some of the impacts that we’re likely to see (with Fiona),” Fogarty said. “Hurricane Edna was in 1954 and produced wide swaths of felled forest in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.”

1873 — The Great Nova Scotia Hurricane

Also known as the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone, this storm swept through Cape Breton Island on August 25, 1873, killing about 500 people, mostly sailors, according to Historica Canada. Environment Canada says that some historical records indicate that 100 more died in Newfoundland, with as many as 1,200 boats and 900 homes also lost.

“He had property and a lead that could be similar to Fiona,” Fogarty said. “There was an incredible surge in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, PEI (also) got devastated, which is probably what we’re going to see with Fiona. To be honest, this 1873 storm, the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone, is the only one that stands out in my head as (having) perhaps a similar track and impact”.

1775 — The Hurricane of Independence

More than 4,000 sailors were lost, mostly off the coast, in Hurricane Independence of 1775, according to Environment Canada. The storm hit the then British colony of Newfoundland. Department files say there has been speculation that the storm was a turning point in the American Revolution because most of the lives lost were British sailors.

It was “a terrible storm,” Fogarty said, which “might have” had the same characteristics as Fiona, although there is little data going back that far, with the information coming mostly from ship reports and early records.

“It was thousands of deaths because there were no warnings back then,” he said. “But some of the reports from that storm (showed) a massive storm surge over eastern Newfoundland.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 24, 2022.

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