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Remember this? Dorian hit Halifax one year ago (20 photos)

The storm made landfall in Sambro Creek, near Crystal Crescent Beach at around 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 as a hurricane strength post-tropical cyclone

Dorian is a name Nova Scotians will remember for years to come.

The hurricane hit Halifax on Saturday, Sept. 7, bringing heavy rain, strong winds and storm surge. 

The storm made landfall in Sambro Creek, near Crystal Crescent Beach at around 7 p.m. that night as a hurricane strength post-tropical cyclone with a pressure of 958 millibars.

Rainfall rates of over 30 mm/h were reported over central and northern Nova Scotia and Lower Sackville tied Oxford for the most rainfall during Dorian's visit with 138 mm.

Dorian's biggest wind gust in Canada was registered in Wreckhouse, Newfoundland at 157 km/h, while the weather station on Beaver Island, near Sheet Harbour, got a peak gust of 145 km/h.

Erica Fleck is the district chief of emergency management for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency.

As Dorian approached Nova Scotia, she said she was in regular contact with the Canadian Hurricane Centre's Bob Robichaud, going over possible scenarios.

"Really tracking it and obviously looking at what was happening in Florida and the devastation there," Fleck said. 

"We can't control the weather, that's the one thing we can't do, so we were really worried about the effects it would have as it was getting closer to us."

Dorian ended up downing large trees throughout the municipality, damaging the Halifax waterfront, ripping a roof from a south end apartment building, toppling a construction crane, knocking out power to over 400,000 Nova Scotia Power customers, and basically blowing away anything not tied down.

In the days leading up to its arrival, Fleck urged Haligonians to have enough supplies to be self-sufficient in their homes for 72-hours, including water and food.

The municipality even asked those living in some coastal communities -- including the Sambro area, Peggys Cove, and along the Eastern Shore -- to voluntarily evacuate.

"We did a lot of good things and then of course there's always room for improvement in anything and I think that's the most important thing, what went well and what didn't," she said. "You keep the things that went well or tweak them, and then fix the things that didn't go so well."

Fleck said there's always room for improvement when it comes to communication during a disaster, especially as it's a constantly evolving process.

"As technology changes or as our citizens change and everything else changes around us, we have to figure out better ways to communicate, to continue that information flow to the citizens," she explained.

Fleck said preparations are already underway in case another tropical system comes to Halifax in 2020.

In early August, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updated its forecast for this year's Atlantic hurricane season, saying it now expects it to be "extremely active."

There have already been 15 named storms -- the average is 12 -- and we've just entered the height of the season.

"I don't think enough people are prepared, I don't think enough people pay attention to the messages that come out," Fleck said.

"For example, last year during Dorian, our biggest concern was people using items like Coleman stoves and generators. We always say please don't use those inside your house and it continues to happen," she added. "We've had house fires because of that."

She said if you're using an appliance like a stove when the power goes out, it's important to make sure it's off when the power kicks back on.

And anyone using barbecues and generators inside a home or garage risks carbon monoxide poisoning.

So far this year, early models for both Hurricane Isaias and Hurricane Laura showed Halifax as potentially being in the crosshairs; but thankfully both systems ended up changing course.

In an interview last month, meteorologist Bob Robichaud said the more storms we have in 2020, the higher the odds are that one could come our way.

He said it's a good idea to start preparing now in case that happens.




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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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