1996-Hortense

Legend of sources

Hortense crossed over eastern Nova Scotia, near Sheet Harbour, on September 15, 1996. This category one hurricane attained winds of 130 km/h. This was the first hurricane to make landfall in Nova Scotia since 1975.

Rainfall image map of Hurricane Hortense, which entered the Canadian Hurricane Centre Response Zone near dawn on September 14, 1996 as a category two hurricane and maintained strength as it moved into Canadian waters. The storm slowed down and weakened as it tracked north-northeast, making landfall near Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia near midnight, then finally dissipating on September 16, 1996. Maximum provincial rainfalls: 168 millimetres in Nova Scotia and 75 millimetres in Newfoundland
Rainfall image map of Hurricane Hortense, which entered the Canadian Hurricane Centre Response Zone near dawn on September 14, 1996 as a category two hurricane and maintained strength as it moved into Canadian waters. The storm slowed down and weakened as it tracked north-northeast, making landfall near Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia near midnight, then finally dissipating on September 16, 1996. Maximum provincial rainfalls: 168 millimetres in Nova Scotia and 75 millimetres in Newfoundland

Hurricane Hortense originated on September 3, 1996 midway between the Cape Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles and eventually made landfall in Nova Scotia. Hortense was a category four strength hurricane at its maximum strength, carrying winds of 222 km/h. Hortense entered the CHC Response Zone near dawn on September 14 as a category two hurricane with winds reaching 158 km/h and it maintained this strength as it moved into Canadian waters. The storm slowed down and weakened as it tracked north-northeast, making landfall near Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia near midnight, with winds of 130 km/h. There were many power outages, trees blown down, roofs torn away, and roads damaged. It was estimated that $3 million of damage was reported in Nova Scotia alone. Hortense finally dissipated on September 16. The CHC issued 19 Hurricane Information Statements.

Hurricane Hortense started tracking in the Canadian Hurricane Centre response zone northeast along the US coast with winds of 64 knots east of storm centre. It then tracked east-northeast and made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia with winds of 64 knots east of storm centre and skimmed along the east coast of Cape Breton before heading east out into the Atlantic with winds of 34 knots before dissipating. As it tracked through Atlantic Canada the storm reached a maximum wind speed of 82 knots, with an mslp of 960 millibar
Hurricane Hortense started tracking in the Canadian Hurricane Centre response zone northeast along the US coast with winds of 64 knots east of storm centre. It then tracked east-northeast and made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia with winds of 64 knots east of storm centre and skimmed along the east coast of Cape Breton before heading east out into the Atlantic with winds of 34 knots before dissipating. As it tracked through Atlantic Canada the storm reached a maximum wind speed of 82 knots, with an mslp of 960 millibar

Some CHC meteorological data:

  • Maximum sustained wind speeds were near 120 km/h. A gust of 161 km/h was recorded at St. Paul Island, located in the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
  • Significant wave heights were in excess of 8 m with maximum waves nearing 18 m.
  • Storm surge values in excess of 100 cm were reported in Halifax and along Nova Scotia’s eastern shore.
  • Highest rainfall amounts were in excess of 135 mm and large amounts fell in short periods of time (18 to 22 mm per hour in some areas.) In some cases, the amounts over 1 or 2 hours exceeded normal monthly totals.

Of note:

Nova Scotia

Canadian Coastal Conference

  • Halifax tide gauge recorded a 1 m storm surge and was coincident with a high tide, which caused water to levels to rise to 2.7 m (CCC)
  • Inshore wave heights of 8.7 m were recorded at Halifax (CCC)
  • At North Sydney storm surge was measured at 0.8 m (CCC)

September 15, 1996

  • Wind gusts measured over 100 km/h (ET)
  • Winds up to 140 km/h had been measured when Hortense approached the eastern shore (ET)
  • 50 mm of rain fell in a rain band ahead of the hurricane (ET)
  • Power was lost in Halifax just minutes before the final at the World Cup of Hockey was set to begin between Canada and United States (ET)
  • Many residences took to the malls, shopping for emergency supplies and the Red Cross issued a warning to stock up on food and other necessities (ET)
  • Telephone and power crews and the Coast Guard were on standby in the region (ET)
  • Hurricane Hortense passed by during high tide resulting in higher than normal water levels (ET)

September 16, 1996

  • In Eastern Passage, there was 100 mm of rainfall and water was spilling from the main water sewer system (TJ)
  • Beaver Island reported 137 mm of rain, with 109 km/h winds. Sydney reported 102 mm of rain and 82 km/h winds. Grand Etang reported 139 km/h winds, St. Paul’s reported 161 km/h winds (TJ)
  • Pictou received 103 mm of rain over the two day period (G)
  • Bedford received over 137 mm of rain (G)
  • Seas were reported to be 8 m high off the eastern shore and Cape Breton (HH)
  • In Halifax, office windows were broken and roofs were blown off (G)
  • A 1 m long lobster weighting five kilograms was washed ashore at Lawrencetown Beach (HH)
  • Beach rocks 0.3 m in diameter were found in a home on Lawrencetown Beach (HH)
  • Three families were forced to leave their homes on Lawrencetown Beach and were stranded at a bed and breakfast (HH)
  • A man opening a music store in the basement of a home at Lawrencetown Beach was flooded. He had most of the work done to the store before the storm and only recovered a few musical instruments (HH)
  • In East Lawrencetown, an ocean wave as big as an 18-wheeler crashed into a house destroying half of the home (G)
  • One home had a basement window smashed out by a wave on Lawrencetown Beach on the eastern shore. Water reached as high as the bed and ruined a lot of the clothing and a pool table in the room. The sea and the wind also tossed around a storage barn (TJ)
  • In Green Bay, Lunenburg County, waves as high as 6 m pounded the beach and a minivan was hurled about 9 m into a flooded yard. One tree fell onto the roof of a cottage which resulted in severe damage (HH)
  • In Wreck Cove, Cape Breton, there was a bridge washed out which resulted in power crews being delayed in restoring power (HH)
  • 2,000 houses without power in the Stewiacke/Shubenacadie area for hours (HH)
  • North end of Halifax was with out power for up to 10 hours (HH)
  • The storm left large boulders on the highway and washed a freezer onto a front lawn in the Lawrencetown Beach area (HH)
  • Many sections of the Cabot Trail were flooded and reduced to one lane (HH)
  • The Chedabucto Bay area was not badly damaged. The power flicked several times and only a few branches had fallen down (HH)
  • Three accidents occurred on the Bicentennial Highway due to hydroplaning (HH)
  • Halifax experienced driving rain and fierce winds which caused shattered windows and toppled trees across the province (ET)
  • Flooding was reported at Mount Saint Vincent University on the Bedford Highway and in Eastern Passage (HH)
  • In Cape Breton, a woman drove into Clyburn Brook, which was flooded. The volunteer firefighters from Ingonish helped save the women; however, two firefighters were injured during the rescue (TJ)
  • Moosehead, Mushaboom and Musquodoboit were all hit hard by the hurricane (G)
  • Tens of thousands of people were without power in Nova Scotia on Sunday night (G)
  • One man from Purcell's Cove was injured during the storm when he was trying to fasten his boat (HH)

New Brunswick

September 16, 1996

  • Saint John reported 54.5 mm of rain. Most of it, however, was due to a system that preceded Hortense. The maximum winds reported were 44 km/h (TJ)

PrinceEdward Island

September 16, 1996

  • Wind of 130 km/h passed through the island causing havoc with power lines (G)
  • 44 mm of rain was measured in Charlottetown while wind gust as high as 83 km/h were measured (G)
  • The Prince Edward Island ferry service was cancelled for most of Saturday and two crossings on Sunday (G)
  • Power in Charlottetown and the western part of the island was also lost (G)
  • Kings County suffered the brunt of the storm (G)
  • Residence in Montague and Murray River were without power for most of the day (G)
  • An insulator broke on a transmission line at Souris power station, causing East Point and Souris to lose power for about two hours (G)

Newfoundland

September 16, 1996

  • 40 mm of rain fell in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and surrounding areas (ET)
  • Heavy rains and high winds were reported on the Burin Peninsula. Winds of 60 km/h forced the Challenge Cup Soccer Finals to be cancelled (ET)
  • $4,000 of damage was done to a man’s house on Fahey Street, Kilbride. He experienced flooding in his basement (ET)
  • Many others on Fahey Street also experienced damages (ET)
  • Two firefighters were sent to hospital when their rescue vehicle hydroplaned on the Trans Canada Highway near Foxtrap and hit a pumper truck while responding to another vehicle accident. One firefighter was admitted to the hospital with a broken leg, head wound, and rib injuries. The other also had head wounds but was released. $50,000 damage was done to the trucks (ET)
  • All sporting activities were cancelled within the region (ET)
  • Approximately 500 people have called with flood-related problems due to the storm sewers not being able to handle the rain (ET)
  • Several main routes were closed due to flooding including the Waterford Bridge Rd. It was closed from Cowan Avenue to Corpus Christi Church (ET)
  • Mount Carson Avenue in Mount Pearl was closed when the road was washed away (ET)
  • Kenmount Road received some flooding near the Newfoundland Labrador Teachers Association Building, while flooding was also present at Brookfield Road and Perlin Street, next to Symes Bridge on Waterford Bridge Road and Hillview Drive, and at McDonald Drive and Torbay Road (ET)
  • Four hydroplaning accidents were reported (ET)