On this day eight years ago, Canadians were bracing themselves for what would be one of the most destructive hurricanes in the country's history.
Hurricane Juan came into Canadian waters as a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 28, 2003. It held that strength when it made landfall around 3 a.m. between Prospect and Shad Bay in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Juan retained its hurricane strength and hit Prince Edward Island as a Category 1 storm just three hours later.
Chris Scott is a meteorologist at The Weather Network. He was working the night Hurricane Juan arrived.
“I remember it really starting on the Saturday before it made landfall,” says Scott.
“And I looked at that storm on satellite and there was something that just twinged in that moment, thinking, 'oh boy, here we go.' This could be really something.”
Jeremy Chipper is The Weather Network's camera operator in the Maritimes. He was in Halifax the night Juan hit.
“This was by far the most exciting and largest storm I had ever covered. Exciting, but then it got very scary.”
Ferocious winds gusting up to 143 km/h left 300,000 people without power.
The storm devastated Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Juan was blamed for eight deaths -- six in Nova Scotia alone.
A state of emergency was declared in Halifax the next day. Commercial activity came to a standstill, and many schools closed for up to a week. Damages topped $300 million.
“The next day was very surreal,” says Chipper. “Woke up in a hotel without power, without water, very little sleep. And you come out of the hotel and there's lamp poles smashed over on top of vehicles, windows blown out of the hotel, and it was sunny and humid. It's almost like someone turned the other switch and it turned into a different day.”
The name “Juan” was retired in 2004 and will never be used again for an Atlantic hurricane.
“Retiring the name of Juan was the right thing to do,” says Scott. “We've never seen the type of impact on the Maritimes that Juan produced. The modern-day infrastructure was ravaged by this storm.”
With files from Lyndsay Morrison