Hurricane Juan was the tenth named storm and the sixth hurricane of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. Juan formed on September 24 to the south of Bermuda. Juan eventually became a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds before it lost a little bit of strength, weakening to 100 mph as it made landfall in Shad bay and Prospect, Nova Scotia on September 29. Juan became absorbed by a large extratropical cyclone over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on the afternoon of September 29.

Hurricane Juan caused $200,000,000 in damage, and was said to be the worst storm to affect Halifax since 1893.

Juan approaching Nova Scotia as a Category 2
FormationSeptember 24, 2003
Dissipation September 29, 2003
Highest winds 105 mph
Lowest pressure 969 mbar
Deaths 4 direct, 4 indirect
Damages $200,000,000 (2003 USD)
Areas affectedAtlantic Canada
Part of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season

Meteorological History


A large tropical wave accompanied by a broad area of low pressure moved off the coast of Africa on September 14. The wave moved westward across the Atlantic Ocean and on September 24, convection increased significantly with the wave, although it remained disorganized. At this time, the wave was located about 600 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and was interacting with a large upper-level low. The aforementioned upper-level low was partially associated with the outflow of powerful Hurricane Isabel. The low was also associated with the mid-oceanic upper-level trough. The tropical wave spawned a mid-level circulation center that moved northwest away from the Lesser Antilles around the upper-level low and then interacted with a frontal zone. On September 23, a low-level circulation developed within the wave, but there was not enough organization to classify the wave as a tropical cyclone. At this point, the wave appeared to have some extratropical characteristics, as it appeared to be attached to the frontal zone. However, when deep convection increased around the low-level center, and when banding features and outflow became better-defined, it is estimated that the wave developed into Tropical Depression Fifteen around September 24 while located about 300 miles southeast of Bermuda.

By September 25, the cyclone had reached tropical storm status, receiving the name Juan. Juan continued to intensify, and the cyclone developed an eye and become a hurricane at around 1200 UTC September 26. Juan moved north and then north-northwest, due to the subtropical ridge to its northeast briefly propogating westward. Juan continued to gradually intensify, and it reached its peak of 105 mph (165 km/h ) as a Category 2 hurricane with a minimum central pressure of 969 mb at 1800 UTC September 27. Juan turned to the north again at this point, this time with an increase in foward speed. At around September 29, Juan made landfall in Shad bay and Prospect, Nova Scotia as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph and a pressure of 973 mb.


Hurricane Juan at landfall.

After landfall, Juan began to weaken, but it still retained its tropical characteristics as it passed over Prince Edward Island. By September 29, Juan became absorbed by a large extratropical cyclone in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


The first advisories on the storm for Atlantic Canada were given by the Canadian Hurricane Centre on September 26. At that time though, there were only broad details suggesting the possibility was there for wind and rain across Atlantic Canada. As Juan approached Atlantic Canada on September 27, warning broadcasts on local media in Atlantic Canada were changed accordingly, and the public as well as emergency officials in the projected path of the cyclone were told to prepare for a potential disaster, as the Canadian Hurricane Centre indicated the possibility for significant wind damage as well as flooding from both heavy rain as well as storm surge. Finally, power outages were also considered likely in Atlantic Canada. On the morning of September 28, the latest reports indicated that Juan would make landfall as either a strong tropical storm or a weak Category 1 hurricane. At that time, every weather forecast for the storm had indicated weakening would occur before landfall. By 6:00 PM on September 28, additional warnings were issued, as Juan was now expected to make landfall as a strong Category 1 hurricane or a weak Category 2 hurricane.

Most of the businesses in the affected areas were at the time closed on Sundays, which meant that last minute preparations could not be made. Although no large-scale evacuations were made, local evacuations for low-lying areas were put into effect on the evening of September 28. A total of several hundred people were affected by Juan. Also, utility workers went onto standby before the storm hit, preparing for widespread power outages.



Debris on Barrington Street after Hurricane Juan passed through.

At landfall, Juan's winds were estimated to be at 100 mph. The urban concentration surrounding Halifax Harbour felt the brunt of the hurricane, which included the highest sustained winds and wind gusts that the cyclone had to offer; some unofficial estimates have the wind gusts as high as 145 mph in the area. Wave-rider buoys off the entrance to Halifax Harbour snapped their moorings after consistently recording wave heights as high as 65 feet. Also, significant beach erosion occured along the populated areas of Halifax Harbour, particularly in the Bedford Basin, where residential properties as well as railway tracks experienced most of the wave action that Hurricane Juan had to offer. Also, a storm surge of 5 to 7 feet was reported at Halifax Harbour, which was the highest storm surge ever recorded in Halifax Harbour. Rainfall from Juan was relatively light, because of the fast foward motion as well as the dry air on the southern side of the cyclone. There were no reports of rainfall higher than 2 inches from Hurricane Juan.


Halifax Waterfront after Hurricane Juan.

Juan also caused widespread stuctural damage as well as vegetation damage across the region, particularly in and around the Halifax Regional Municipality. Extensive tree damage was reported in the area, which caused many road blockages as well as downed power lines. Also, many homes and businesses received property damage from the hurricane, particularly roof damage; some weaker structures were destroyed by the hurricane. HRM estimated that 31% of residential homes suffered damage to some degree and 27% of the homes had enough damage to warrant insurance claims. Also, in downtown Halifax, erosion-control boulders the size of garbage cans were hurled from Halifax Harbour and onto boardwalks as well as piers and parking lots. The Victoria General Hospital received roof damage as well as water damage from the hurricane. The hospital was evacuated during the storm, as were a number of tall apartment buildings and other multi-family residences. Some billboards as well as signs were also destroyed by the hurricane, and dozens of vehicles were crushed by trees and other forms of debris.


Broken windows to an apartment complex following Hurricane Juan's passage.

Also, the city's cherished Point Pleasant Park as well as Public Gardens experienced a significant loss of trees and remained closed for months after Juan had passed.


Public Gardens before Hurricane Juan.


Public Gardens on September 29, 2003, after Hurricane Juan came through.

At the harbour entrance on Sambro Island, a historic building beside the oldest lighthouse in North America was significantly damaged by Juan, and as of 2007, remains unrepaired. Also, Juan caused severe damage to shipping in Halifax Harbour. Also, a visiting schooner pleasure craft, called Larinda, was sunk by the hurricane. Also, a harbour tour ketch Mar II was driven ashore in the eastern passage on the opposite side of Halifax Harbour. Dozens of smaller yachts were also driven ashore by the hurricane; extensive damage occured to yacht clubs along the Bedford Basin and Northwest Arm. Dozens of containers were knocked off two container ships at the South End Container Terminal. Also, wharves on the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfront experienced significant damage and several railcars were washed into the harbour at the Dartmouth railway yard; one of the tracks for the double-track main line was washed out in several places along the Bedford Basin near the city of Millview. Also, coastal flooding was reported in the Halifax Harbour area due to Juan's storm surge, although inland flooding was not significant because of Juan's fast foward speed.

West of where Juan came ashore, less severe damage was reported into St. Margaret's Bay and Mahone Bay. In addition to Halifax Regional Municipality's urban core, the town of Truro and all of rural Colchester County as well as the western part of Pictou County experienced property damage and power outages from falling trees; numerous barns and other agricultural buildings were damaged east of the storm's path, including a replica of the Hector in Pictou Harbour. The severity of the damage in the Halifax and Dartmouth Metropolitan Areas of Halifax Regional Municipality had initially led some forecasters to believe that Juan struck as a Category 3 hurricane; however, the sustained wind reports did not justify that Juan was a major hurricane at landfall. Also, many of the deciduous trees in central Nova Scotia still had leaves on them, which magnified the effects of the wind damage from the hurricane. The overall number of damaged trees in Atlantic Canada from Juan is estimated to be in the millions. In Nova Scotia, Juan left more than 700,000 residents without electricity. It took up to two weeks to restore power to the hardest hit rural areas of Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore as well as the Musquodoboit River valley. Nova Scotia power reported that 27 transmission lines, 31 substations, as well as 117 distribution feeders experienced damage from Juan. Also, several transmission towers were damaged, as well. 70% of the trees in Halifax's Point Pleasure Park were destroyed, fundamentally changing the character of the large urban park. Also, Halifax's Public Gardens was also significantly damaged by the hurricane.

Juan killed a total of six people (two direct) in Nova Scotia. Both direct deaths were because of fallen trees; one death was a Halifax paramedic: John Michael Rossiter and the other death was a motorist in Enfield. Also, three of the four indirect deaths were due to a house fire started by candles when the power went out. The fourth death was because of relief work during the aftermath of the storm.

Rest of Atlantic Canada

When Juan passed through Nova Scotia and tracked into the Northumberland Strait, it was still a Category 1 hurricane. As it emerged into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the cyclone weakened to a tropical storm. Wind gusts as high as 86 mph were reported in Charlottetown and a gust of 67 mph was reported in the Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Damage also occured on Prince Edward Island, particularly around Charlottetown, where the waterfront experienced significant wave damage to its pleasure crafts as well as its seawalls. Also, it experienced significant damage to the older urban forest in that city's downtown core. Also, extensive tree damage was reported across Prince Edward Island, as well as structural damage to weaker buildings, such as barns and silos. Much of the island lost power because of the storm, with the power outages lasting up to a total of five days. The narrow path that the cyclone took caused the damage to be highly localized; little damage was reported in New Brunswick or the western portion of Prince Edward Island. Voting in the PEI general election on September 29 was also disrupted, though more than 80% of voters made it to polling stations. The storm also caused minimal damage in Newfoundland and it produced heavy rains across the island.

Two deaths occured in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence off the remote Anticosti Island in Quebec. The people who died were fisherman from New Brunswick operating near Anticosti Island.


Rainfall totals from Hurricane Juan.


Because of the damage, the name Juan was retired in the Spring of 2004 by the World Meteorological Organization. It was replaced with Joaquin for the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season.

See Also

2003 Atlantic hurricane season


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