HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) – An unusually long string of violent thunderstorms has thrown record-breaking amounts of rain across much of Canada’s Atlantic Coast province of Nova Scotia over the past two days, causing flash flooding, road flooding and power outages.
Torrential rain began in the Halifax area on Friday afternoon, bringing down more than 200 millimeters of rain in some areas. The port city typically sees around 90–100mm of rain in the average July.
Based on radar estimates and unofficial observations, Environment Canada said Saturday some areas may have received more than 300mm in 24 hours. Radar maps show that the heaviest rainfall extends along the province’s southwest coast to a point north of Halifax.
Large-scale flooding was also reported in Lunenberg County, west of the Halifax region.
On Friday night, water levels in the Bedford area rose so rapidly that Halifax Search and Rescue volunteers used small boats to rescue people from flooded homes.
In the Hammonds Plains area, northwest of the city, flooding submerged driveways and the side edges of many roads.
This is the same area where 151 homes and businesses were destroyed by a wildfire that began May 28 and necessitated evacuations affecting 16,000 residents. And for most of the past week, the Halifax area has been a motionless dome of moisture — a rare occurrence so close to the coast.
Just last fall, post-tropical storm Fiona raged across the Atlantic region, killing three people, flattening scores of homes and knocking out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses. Fiona was the costliest weather event in the region’s history, causing over CA$800 million (US$604 million) of insured loss.
“It’s pretty obvious that the climate is changing — from Fiona last year, to spring’s wildfires, to summer’s floods,” said Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
“We get storms that used to be considered a 50-year event… fairly regularly,” he added.
Although official statistics have not yet been recorded, it is believed that the Halifax area has not had this much rainfall since August 16, 1971, when Hurricane Beth made landfall near the eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia and then raged over Cape Breton. By this time nearly 10 inches (250 mm) of rain had fallen on the Halifax area, causing widespread flooding and damage.