Nova Scotia

Powerful storm surge rips up roads and batters Nova Scotia coast

A strong storm surge flung debris and ripped up some roads along Nova Scotia's Atlantic coastline, leaving behind a powerful reminder of the high winds and massive surf that lashed the province Thursday and Friday.

Environment Canada had warnings in effect along the Atlantic coastline

A man gets hit by a wave as a storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean hits a break wall in Cow Bay, N.S., on Friday. (Darren Calabrese/Reuters)

A strong storm surge flung debris and ripped up some roads along Nova Scotia's Atlantic coastline, leaving behind a powerful reminder of the high winds and massive surf that lashed the province Thursday and Friday.

Environment Canada had issued storm-surge warnings from Shelburne County to Guysborough County, and along Cape Breton's eastern coast. The warnings were lifted mid-afternoon as conditions settled.

The Department of Transportation said Friday morning that its crews were salting roads and removing debris in Lunenburg County and in the Liverpool area.

A section of Trunk 3 from Upper Tantallon to Hubbards is closed and a section of Conrads Road near Queensland Beach is no longer passable.

The storm surge ripped up a section of road by Queensland Beach near Hubbards, N.S. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

The CBC's Colleen Jones said a bulldozer was trying to clear debris from Conrads Road, but the waves had tossed large rocks that line the shore "like pebbles across the road." Powerlines near Queensland Beach are down.

"Conrads Road has crumbled like it's an earthquake as the result of the surf," she told Information Morning

Western Head Causeway and Shore Road in Queens County are also shut down. Highway 207 near Lawrencetown, on the province's Eastern Shore, was shut down overnight and reopened early Friday afternoon.

Wilfred Smith, a lobster fisherman in Port La Tour, N.S., watched from his truck as the surf crashed over the breakwater near the wharf outside Barrington on Thursday evening.

He said the tide rose about 60 centimetres higher than normal.

Like many fishermen along the South Shore, he put out lines to secure his boat in advance of the storm. By Friday morning, he said it appeared the wharf was not damaged. 

"It held up but … the concern was the structure was going to give way rather than holding the boats firm," he said.

"When you got a million-dollar boat tied to a huge rope to a structure that's in need of repair, [you get] a little bit worried," Smith said. 

He also said he expects to lose some of his 250 lobster traps, which cost about $200 each. It will likely be Tuesday, he said, before the wind and waves die down enough for him to check his traps. 

"We take a big risk fishing in the wintertime."

Ronald Crossley captured this image of the storm surge covering a popular boardwalk along the Halifax waterfront. (Ronald Crossley)

Michael Moreland, who lives in Dublin Shore outside Lunenburg, said people in the area were prepared for the worst, but there didn't appear to be extensive wind damage Friday morning in his area.

"The low lying areas have a lot of rocks of seaweed and debris strewn across from the wave action," he said. "It seems like most of the weak trees got taken out by the Christmas Day storm."

On the Eastern Shore, Karin Cope watched as water flooded into her yard in West Quoddy. She estimated the high-water point was just 10 centimetres below the dock.

"The sea is undulating under the ice, so there's nothing splashing up, but water is seeping onto the yard underneath the ice," she said. 

Some water also leaked into her home. Though she was safe and warm inside, Cope said it was a noisy night. "We certainly could feel the timbers in the house shiver under the wind."

The tide was still rising at 9 a.m. when waves crashed onto Highway 207 near Lawrencetown, N.S. (Bridget Turner)

In Cape Breton, a fisheries operation on the northeast coast reported extensive storm damage.

"We've had major damage to parts of our processing facility, to the exterior stairways, and a massive exterior door that literally the sea just pushed … right inside," said Osborne Burke, general manager of Victoria Cooperative Fisheries Ltd. in Neils Harbour.

Burke said a few other pieces of equipment were damaged with saltwater, including electrical pumps.

The wharf in Neils Harbour generally sits about two or three feet above water at high tide, Burke said. But last night, "there were no wharves visible — everything was under water."

Along the province's Atlantic coast, people gathered to watch as the wind whipped up the surf Thursday night. 

A wave soaked Sean Tobin as he watched the surf near Eastern Passage. He has lived in the area close to 20 years but said he had never seen the surge so high.

"It's spectacular. It's beautiful, it's windy, wet, pretty incredible," he said. "We're just worried about property damage now with the high winds, we've already lost shingles…. We could be a lot worse off right now."

A car makes its way along Shore Road, strewn with rocks and debris tossed up by waves, in Eastern Passage. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

With files from Shaina Luck, Marina von Stackelberg and Joan Weeks