1991-Unnamed “Perfect Storm”

† (7 Canadian fatalities)

Legend of sources

The Unnamed storm--also known as “The Halloween Storm” and “The Perfect Storm”--made landfall over Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as a tropical storm with winds of 93 km/h (50 knots) on November 2nd. This was the first storm in which the moored-buoy program off Canada’s east coast recorded phenomenal wave heights, including a single wave of over 30 metres.

Rainfall image map of The Unnamed storm, or also known as Hurricane Grace, which made landfall over Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as a tropical storm on November 2, 1991, and left the Canadian Hurricane Centre Response Zone on the evening of November 4, 1991. Maximum provincial rainfalls: 30 millimetres in Nova Scotia
Rainfall image map of The Unnamed storm, or also known as Hurricane Grace, which made landfall over Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as a tropical storm on November 2, 1991, and left the Canadian Hurricane Centre Response Zone on the evening of November 4, 1991. Maximum provincial rainfalls: 30 millimetres in Nova Scotia

From prediction through naming, every aspect of this very complex storm challenged forecasters in Canada and the United States. A strong extratropical low formed off the coast of Nova Scotia on October 28, 1991. The low moved southward and developed into an extratropical storm south of Halifax. This storm made a counter clockwise loop and moved northeast through Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic on October 29th, a cold front encountered a dissipating Hurricane Grace and the storm weakened quickly. A new circulation was visible on the GOES photographs late on October 29th forming an extratropical low pressure centre. Moisture that was previously associated with Hurricane Grace moved north-northeast and combined with the new low pressure centre. On October 30th, a buoy 425 km (264 mi) south-southeast of Halifax reported a peak wave height of 30.5 m (100 ft). This represented the highest wave height ever measured on the Scotian Shelf. On November 2nd, the storm was declared by the United States National Hurricane Centre to be of hurricane strength. By the time it reached the Nova Scotia coast near Halifax, it had weakened rapidly and its maximum sustained winds had diminished to near 93 km/h (50 knots). The storm left the CHC Response Zone on the evening of November 4th. Power outages occurred across Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This storm also has the distinction of having the northernmost point of origin for any tropical cyclone in the United States National Hurricane Center’s database for the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Grace started tracking in the Canadian Hurricane Centre response zone as it formed south west of Nova Scotia along the eastern coast. It tracked south and then turned northeast toward Nova Scotia. It made landfall east of Halifax with 34 knot winds and travelled over eastern Prince Edward Island before dissipating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As it tracked through Atlantic Canada the storm reached a maximum wind speed of 50 knots, with an mslp of 996 millibar
Tropical Storm Grace started tracking in the Canadian Hurricane Centre response zone as it formed south west of Nova Scotia along the eastern coast. It tracked south and then turned northeast toward Nova Scotia. It made landfall east of Halifax with 34 knot winds and travelled over eastern Prince Edward Island before dissipating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As it tracked through Atlantic Canada the storm reached a maximum wind speed of 50 knots, with an mslp of 996 millibar

Naming This Storm

By the time the tropical system had formed on November 2nd, the extratropical system was on the wane and conditions were improving on the coasts. The Canadian Hurricane Centre and the United States National Hurricane Center felt that naming or renaming this storm would cause major confusion for the media and the public. Meteorologists now refer to this storm as 'The Perfect Storm' (based on Sebastian Junger’s book), 'The Unnamed Storm', or 'The Halloween Storm.'

Nova Scotia

October 30, 1991

  • Ferry crossings from Yarmouth to Bar Harbour, Maine and from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island were cancelled (ET)
  • A Liberian bulk carrier southeast of Sable Island was taking in water, engines and electrical systems were knocked out, and the engine room and sleeping quarters were flooded (ET)

November 1, 1991

  • 20,000 people in Pictou County were without power (HH)
  • Two lobster boats and a whale watching boat destroyed by the high winds in Tiverton (ET)
  • Japanese trawler lost power and steering in the North Atlantic, rescued by a fisheries observer who coordinated rescue efforts (ET)

Newfoundland

October 29, 1991

  • Storm caused slippery roads on the Trans Canada near Grand Falls-Windsor which resulted in a car accident killing one man (ET)
  • Wind gusts of 110 km/h (59 knots) reported in St. Lawrence-Lawn Area (ET)
  • 11.6 cm (4.4 in) of snow fell breaking the record for October 28th (ET)
  • Numerous car accidents on the Burin Peninsula Highway, one person with serious injuries (ET)
  • High winds forced several tractor trailers off the road near Hawke’s Hill, near Holyrood (ET)
  • Power outages on the Burin Peninsula and in the St. Lawrence-Lawn Area (ET)
  • Power outages in English Harbour West, Belleoram, Mose Ambrose, Wreck Cove, Boxey and Coomb’s Cove (ET)
  • Stopped ferry service between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (ET)
  • The storm caused the stern lines of the M.V. Joseph and Clara Smallwood to break as passengers were preparing to board. Ferry was secured eventually, but was turned sideways in its berth (ET)
  • The Bell Island ferry, Katherine missed its morning run due to high winds (ET)
  • The police responded to 35 traffic accidents (ET)

October 30, 1991

  • Nine boats damaged by high waves in Torbay (ET)
  • Highest wave height ever record measured 30.7 m (100 ft) (CDD)

December 17, 1993

  • Six crewmembers lost from the American fishing boat, Andrea Gail (USCG)
  • The last known position was October 28th via radio at 44°00° N, 56°40° W (USCG)
  • Winds in the vicinity of this boat were 185 km/h (100 knots) (USCG)