Storm surges expected in Atlantic Canada

A storm that has knocked out power in some areas, downed trees and created travel disruptions in Atlantic Canada is expected to cause damaging storm surges.
Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe explains the effects of Atlantic Canada's nor'easter 1:07

A storm that has knocked out power in some areas, downed trees and created travel disruptions in Atlantic Canada is expected to cause damaging storm surges Wednesday night.

Storm surges — where strong winds push tides farther up the shore combined with wave action — could cause shore erosion flooding and destruction of property along coastal areas. High tides will occur around sunset and again at daybreak.

Maritime Electric crews in P.E.I. were busy clearing downed branches on power lines. (CBC)

Areas along the Northumberland Strait are most vulnerable, including the Nova Scotia coastline from eastern Pictou through Antigonish into the north-facing coastlines of Cape Breton and P.E.I.'s south coast.

However, even Shelburne in southwestern Nova Scotia has broken one-day rainfall records.

Charlottetown public works has been monitoring the situation all day and are preparing for storm surges.

"We will have staff on throughout the evening monitoring things and addressing issues as they may occur," said Paul Johnston, department manager.

Parks Canada is advising the public to stay off beaches and trails and away from the cliffs in Prince Edward Island National Park during the storm, saying it's a safety risk. Campgrounds in the park are closed until normal weather resumes.

Although Yarmouth and Halifax saw some sun mixing with showers at the end of the afternoon, residual showers and wind are expected to continue overnight. Other areas in the region can expect to face more heavy wind and rain, with Cape Breton and western Newfoundland bearing the brunt. The storm is expected to ease by Thursday afternoon.

Utility crews continue to be busy in the region. At 7 p.m. AT, New Brunswick Power reported just over 2,000 customers without power, mainly in the Saint John and Sackville areas and on the Acadian Peninsula. In Nova Scotia, 4,000 homes and businesses remain affected and in P.E.I., Maritime Electric reported 2,100 customers without power, mostly at the eastern end of the province.

Storm surges are expected in coastal areas. (CBC)

Several road washouts were reported in Pictou and Colcheter counties in Nova Scotia, while P.E.I. transportation officials said there were no reports of major flooding.

There are also travel restrictions for high-sided vehicles, motorcycles and trailers on the Confederation Bridge that links P.E.I. and New Brunswick. Peak gusts have reached 126 km/h, bridge officials said.

"I guess it's our first major wind storm of the year and it's going to be a long one because it looks as if it's going to last until tomorrow afternoon," said Michel LeChasseur, spokesman for the Confederation Bridge.

Air Canada has cancelled or delayed several of its flights at the Moncton airport. The Halifax airport reported many delays throughout the day, while the Charlottetown airport has had just a few.

Rough sailing conditions are keeping Marine Atlantic's ferries between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland tied up until late Thursday. The forecast calls for winds exceeding 100 km/h and wave heights from eight to 11 metres. Northumberland Ferries, connecting Nova Scotia and P.E.I., cancelled Wednesday crossings.

And it would have been one of the busiest days of Saint John's cruise season, but three vessels carrying a total of 6,000 passengers cancelled stops in the city. The Caribbean Princess and the Regatta cancelled early Wednesday, with the captain of the Norwegian Jewel making the decision after discussions with harbour pilots. In Charlottetown, another cruise ship, Celebrity Cruises Summitt, also decided not to dock because of the weather.

Just five days into October and much of the region has already seen more than the monthly average rainfall amounts. According to numbers recorded at airport reporting stations, this storm's accumulation combined with last weekend's soaking, means that Halifax's unofficial rainfall total is 126.6 mm — slightly more than the October average of 126.4 mm. Meanwhile, Charlottetown has seen 123.2 mm of rain, a full 18 mm more than the monthly average.

The rain storms are expected to pass by Friday except for a few residual showers. Marine Atlantic expects to resume service at that time.

As the storm ends, temperatures will plunge. Some parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick could see snow fall.

The wild weather ride will not end there. After the snow, temperatures will start to climb, and are expected to reach the 20s across the region by Sunday.