Nova Scotia

Environment Canada says Nova Scotia dry spell not 'a one-off'

The extended dry spell plaguing Nova Scotia this summer is just a taste of the new weather patterns Canadians can expect, an Environment Canada climatologist says.

Canadians can expect more dry spells, followed by floods, climatologist says

Drought conditions experienced by parts of Nova Scotia this summer will be more frequent and often followed by flooding, an Environment Canada climatologist predicts. (CBC)

An Environment Canada climatologist is warning that a dry spell in Nova Scotia that has left some people without water is just a "dress rehearsal" for the kind of weather conditions Canada can expect in the years to come.

"These are little teasers, little dress rehearsals of what we're going to be challenged with more in the future," said David Phillips.

"It's not your grandparent's weather anymore. It's a new weather and it's weird, wild and wacky."

Phillips said parts of Nova Scotia have been drier than normal this summer, with the Halifax area only receiving about two-thirds of what it normally does in precipitation.

Officials in Nova Scotia are delivering water to residents of southwestern Nova Scotia that haven't seen rain in weeks and aren't expecting any for the next couple of weeks. Water stations at schools and provincial parks have been opened for people to shower.

Water conservation order

The Town of Windsor issued a water conservation order to area residents Thursday

"Due to very dry conditions, lake levels in the Mill Lake Watershed area are lower than normal for this time of year. The situation has continued to worsen on a daily basis," it said. 

Residents and businesses aren't permitted to water their lawns or wash cars and are urged to repair any leaky plumbing fixtures. No long showers, unnecessary toilet flushing or leaving the sink tap running are also discouraged "to avoid reaching a potentially dangerous situation," the town says.   

'This is a first'

"In order to fix the situation, we need about half a foot of rain to bring the water table up to a place where these wells will be able to hold water," Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill said.

Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill says the province needs half a foot of rain to bring the water table up to a place where wells will be able to hold water. (CBC)

He said the communities of Argyle, Shelburne and Barrington are experiencing the most acute shortages, but there have been reports of dwindling supplies in Chester and Guysborough County.

"This is a first, according to the records of Environment Canada," said Churchill. "We have never had a dry spell like this in this part of the country."

Churchill said water is being provided by municipal water sources and volunteer fire departments, along with ground search and rescue crews who are helping identify people who might be without water.

'You can't stop the weather'

 As temperatures warm up across the country over the next number of years, Canadians can expect more dry spells — and more frequently than normal, Phillips said

"Don't think that this was a one-off," he said, adding that Canadians should also expect the unexpected, as dry spells could be followed by flood conditions.

"What we need to do is learn from this and figure out how we build resilience and cushion the blow, because you can't stop the weather."

For farmers, that could include monitoring forecasts and planting different seeds that require less precipitation, he said. Phillips said some may consider digging deeper wells.