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Nor'easter triggers floods in Atlantic Canada

Flood waters are easing in parts of Atlantic Canada, but damage is widespread. Click the image for a closer look at this storm.
Flood waters are easing in parts of Atlantic Canada, but damage is widespread. Click the image for a closer look at this storm.

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

December 22, 2010 — A Nor'easter continues to hammer Atlantic Canada, with near hurricane-strength wind gusts, storm surge and coastal flooding. Now, in some places, the clean-up is underway.

Storm surge and flooding in Amherst, NS
Storm surge and flooding in Amherst, NS

For the third week in a row, people in Atlantic Canada are trying to cope with damaging winds, dangerous surf and coastal flooding.

A powerful Nor'easter slammed into the provinces on Monday, bringing snow to some areas and heavy rain to others. The bigger concerns however, have been the winds and the high surf.

The storm surge from the current system, coupled with the astronomical high tides from Tuesday morning's lunar eclipse is adding to the large tidal distortion. Officials say the alignment of the Earth, moon and sun and the pull from each object is what helps to enhance the size of the tides, as opposed to the eclipse itself.

“The moon is at the perigee so that it's the closest distance between the earth and the moon so as a result, the astronomical high tide is very significant,” says Claude Cote, with Environment Canada. “And because of the actual weather element set up, we're looking at persisting strong northeast winds gusting to 90 km/h so there's also the wave build up. So we're looking at the astronomical high tide and because of weather elements we're looking at additional swelling of water levels.”

Damage at a campground in Shediac, NB
Damage at a campground in Shediac, NB

The surf and strong winds have prompted Marine Atlantic to cancel sailings between Nova Scotia and southern Newfoundland. Officials say despite the complications this will cause over the holidays, the safety of travellers and crew members is currently the top priority.

Thousands of customers were also left without power on Tuesday. New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization is reminding residents to continue to take precaution.

“If you have not already experienced the high water around the area, maintain a close watch on it,” says Karl Wilmot with EMO. He adds that from past experience, residents should know where their benchmarks are set. “And we would advise taking these precautions as early as possible.”

Authorities say that the wharfs in Shediac, Richibucto, Pointe du Chene and Bouctouche are under water. Localized flooding has also been reported in parts of Cape Breton and northern Nova Scotia.

For some residents, this onset of stormy weather is the last thing they need. A powerful storm walloped the Maritimes just last week causing widespread flooding across the region. St. Stephen, New Brunswick was one of the hardest hit areas after close to 200 mm of rain drenched the community.

“A lot of areas are still dealing with recovery from recent floods and wind damage,” says Danya Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “This is a busy time for holiday preparations and there's no doubt that this storm will cause a mess on the roads because of the wind, rain and snow.”

For the latest on this storm, tune in to The Weather Network on TV or check out the watches and warnings online.

With files from Lisa Varano and Lyndsay Morrison

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