The post-tropical storm Fiona left millions of dollars in damage in Canada, and an expert says similar storms may still come.
On Saturday morning, Fiona left a trail of destruction across a wide swath of Atlantic Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia’s eastern mainland to Cape Breton, PEI, and southwestern Newfoundland.
Waves between 12 and 16 metres and storm surges led to nearly 100 homes being damaged or lost entirely.
At the height of the storm, 415,000 Nova Scotia homes and businesses were in the dark, including 210,000 in the Halifax region and 65,000 in Cape Breton.
By late Tuesday afternoon, more than 180,000 Atlantic Canadian homes and businesses were still without electricity, more than 122,000 of them in Nova Scotia and about 61,000 in PEI.
The record-breaking storm is being blamed for two deaths, one in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other in Nova Scotia.
“This is a weather event that 30, 40 years ago, would have been extremely unlikely. Climate change comes along and it shifts the possibilities to a point where this is no longer an extremely unlikely storm,” Joel Finnis, a climatologist at Memorial University says.
If the planet and oceans continue to warm, Finnis said, storms like Fiona will become more common — to the point where devastating storms are no longer once in a lifetime, he said.
“It’s frustrating to see how many wakeup calls are being ignored. It’s like we’ve been hitting the snooze button for 25-odd years,” Finnis said.
Finnis pointed to Hurricane Igor in 2010, flooding caused by the rainfall of Hurricane Earl earlier this month and an August heat wave that helped fuel multiple forest fires across central Newfoundland.
“It’s been wakeup call after wakeup call after wakeup call,” he said. “The [events] that I just mentioned have caused problems, have caused damage, but they still dwindle in comparison to some of the other wakeup calls we’ve been having which are frankly taking thousands of lives.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also connected the storm to climate change.
Trudeau was in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Tuesday to tour the extensive damage and pledge better ways to build more resilient infrastructure.
“The federal government is here as a partner,” Trudeau said in Stanley Bridge, PEI. “We were working in advance of the storm to prepare for the worst, and the worst happened. But at the same time, we’ve heard tremendous stories of resilience.”