Nova Scotia·Weather

Remembering Dorian: How the 2019 storm left a trail of destruction

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon has a look back at the historic storm that belted the region a year ago today.

More than half a million people were left without power across the Maritimes, 400,000 in Nova Scotia

Looking back at the wrath of Hurricane Dorian one year later

3 years ago
Duration 2:10
The most destructive storm on record to hit the Maritimes brought widespread heavy rain, pounding surf, damaging storm surge and severe winds.

Hurricane Dorian is a storm that many across the Maritimes won't ever forget. 

The most destructive storm to hit the region on record brought widespread heavy rain, pounding surf, damaging storm surge and severe winds. 

Wharfs were destroyed, roofs were ripped from buildings, hundreds of trees broke or fell, and even a crane was toppled. 

What made Dorian, which arrived one year ago today, such a historic storm was the spread of the damage.

With a track from southwest to northeast through the centre of the Maritimes, Dorian delivered wind gusts greater than 100 km/h across much of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and also southern New Brunswick. 

Dorian brought widespread damaging wind gusts over 100 km/h and heavy rainfall over 100 mm. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Dorian transitioned from a Category 2 hurricane to a post-tropical storm as it arrived. That transition spread the damaging winds even wider from the centre of the storm. 

In the end, more than half a million people in the region, 400,000 in Nova Scotia, were left without power.

Because there was so much wind damage, restoring power was a difficult task for utility crews. Despite hundreds of power crews being dispatched, some rural areas of the region were without power for up to nine days.

The wicked winds caused widespread damage, however, storm surge also took its toll on some coastal communities, including Herring Cove and Ketch Harbour. Wharfs and sheds were smashed to pieces or washed away. 

Given the damage sustained at low tide, it's unsettling to wonder what the damage would have looked like had Dorian arrived at high tide, especially for Halifax harbour. 

A shed in Herring Cove shows the impact of the storm. (David Burke/CBC)

Dorian vs. Juan

For many folks in the Halifax region, Hurricane Dorian didn't compare to the wrath of Hurricane Juan back in 2003. 

However, as I mentioned in my breakdown last fall, while Juan was a more severe storm for the Halifax region, Dorian's impacts were more far-reaching across the region. 

Also, had it not been for Juan's 'pruning' of the city's oldest and most vulnerable trees 16 years earlier, perhaps Dorian would have had a greater impact on the HRM.

Several trees were uprooted in P.E.I. National Park. (Parks Canada)

Damage in Nova Scotia was estimated by the Insurance Bureau of Canada at $62.2 million, in New Brunswick at $22.2 million and in P.E.I. at $17.5 million.

That $102-million price tag makes it the most destructive storm on record for the region, topping Juan's $85 million in damage. 

About 60 boats were tossed around and tangled up by winds and waves at the Shediac Bay Yacht Club in Shediac, N.B. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Dorian was also more destructive than Juan in Prince Edward Island, where the storm caused coastal erosion.

Thirty people had to be rescued when flood waters caused extensive damage to a campground in western P.E.I. In the Cavendish area of P.E.I. National Park, it's estimated that 80 per cent of the trees were damaged or downed.

Tropical development in the Atlantic hurricane season normally peaks in mid-September (NOAA)

In New Brunswick, Dorian ripped wharfs away. Around 60 boats were tossed and tangled by the winds and waves at the Shediac Yacht Club.

Active 2020 season continues

It's been an active start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season with 15 named storms already.

We've been fortunate so far, as we've only seen the weakened remnants of Laura moving through the region. However, as we near the peak of the season mid-month, we're very likely to see more storms develop in the tropics. 

Dorian is a good reminder that we should all remain prepared for when that next storm comes up the coast. 


Ryan Snoddon


Ryan Snoddon is CBC's meteorologist in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.