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Leslie: How bad could it be?


What will Leslie's impact be?
What will Leslie's impact be?

Chris Scott, meteorologist

September 10, 2012 — Leslie is targeting Newfoundland for a Tuesday impact. The question now is, how bad could it be?

Igor caused flooding and swept away roads in 2010
Igor caused flooding and swept away roads in 2010

COMPARISON†

The memories of Hurricane Igor are still fresh for many Newfoundlanders. Igor is the benchmark storm for Newfoundland, like Juan is the benchmark storm for Nova Scotia and PEI.

These were very different storms in terms of impact Ė Igor did most of its damage with rain, while Juan was all about wind.

Like people, no two tropical systems are alike Ė itís fitting we give these things names - and Leslie will have its own unique story.

Leslie will not have Juanís wind strength, and will likely fall short of Igorís epic rains, but is still capable of significant damage. ††

FORECAST†

Two big factors make up the forecast for a tropical system Ė track and intensity.

After going into the weekend with a great deal of uncertainty in Leslieís track, we now have high confidence that the centre of the storm will move over at least a part of Newfoundland Tuesday. Knowing the track allows us to predict where the heaviest of the rain will fall versus the strongest winds.

The highest rainfall totals will be west of the stormís track. With a storm track slightly farther west than Igor, this means that the Bonavista and Burin peninsulas which were inundated by Igor should escape the worst of Leslieís rain. This puts western Newfoundland and Cape Breton in the zone for the heaviest rainfall.

As Leslieís moisture interacts with a juicy frontal zone across these regions, over 100 mm of rain could fall Monday into Tuesday.

The strongest winds will be to the east of Leslieís track, which puts St. Johnís and the Avalon Peninsula in line for a very windy Tuesday. The strongest winds will likely occur Tuesday morning into the early afternoon in these areas.

Unlike with Igor, the strongest winds will be from a more southerly direction for St. Johnís. It will feel more like a tropical system in St.†Johnís as opposed to the cold blast that wrapped in behind Igor 2 years ago.

While there will be strong winds back through eastern Nova Scotia and the rest of Newfoundland, the eastern part of the island is likely to feel the worst, with gusts approaching or exceeding 120 km/h on Tuesday. ††

Winds from both Juan and Igor brought down trees
Winds from both Juan and Igor brought down trees

IMPACT

Water is usually the greatest threat with most tropical systems that affect Canada. The epic flooding with Igor was caused by 200+ mm of rain Ė an unheard of amount in eastern Newfoundland.

Some computer models are projecting 100+ mm for Cape Breton, and possibly western Newfoundland. This amount will cause at least some flooding, and it is possible there could be road washouts if totals do go significantly over 100 mm.

While it may be difficult to eclipse Igorís totals, residents of Cape Breton who live near smaller streams should be ready for the worst of Leslieís rains Monday night.

Wind will be a significant problem with Leslie. Deciduous trees are still in full leaf in St. Johnís, and wind gusts near 120 km/h will bring down at least some trees.

Although widespread structural damage is unlikely, power outages could be widespread across the Avalon, Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas, with scattered outages throughout the rest of Newfoundland into Cape Breton. Storm surge is a possibility east of Leslieís track Ė low lying coastal areas along Placentia and St.†Maryís Bays may see flooding depending on Leslieís exact timing relative to high tide on Tuesday.

WHAT TO WATCH †

Leslie is coming.

The storm will not vanish and let us off the hook. But like with any forecast, there is always some mystery in what lies ahead.

Track and intensity changes through the day on Monday will determine whether Leslie realizes its full damage potential in a given area.†

This may not be a benchmark storm like Igor or Juan, but could still be memorable for many.

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