Canadian Underwriter

Lee update: Where the damage is likely to happen

September 14, 2023   by David Gambrill

Hurricane Lee approaches Atlantic Canada. Satellite image

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New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are bracing for flooding and high winds as Hurricane Lee approaches landfall in Atlantic Canada as a Category 1 storm.

Currently showing wind speeds of 155 km/h, Lee is expected to become a strong tropical storm, before transitioning into a post-tropical storm while making landfall anywhere from near Grand Manan Island, NB, to Shelburne County, NS, Saturday evening.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Lee will be a broad system once it reaches land, with areas as far as 300 km/h away feeling its effects.

Bands of downpours today and Friday will precede the arrival of Lee this weekend, compounding flood risk, the hurricane centre warned in a bulletin Thursday morning.

“These bands [of downpours travelling from southwest to northeast] are notoriously difficult to predict but it is important to understand there is a flooding risk with these bands well before the arrival of Lee,” the centre cautioned. “These complex effects are indirectly related to the hurricane. Additional rainfall from Lee itself could exacerbate the risk of flooding.”

A hurricane watch is in effect for Grand Manan Island and Coastal Charlotte County in New Brunswick, and Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne and Queens counties in Nova Scotia.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Saint John County, Fundy National Park, Moncton and Southeast New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, a tropical storm watch warning is in effect for Annapolis, Kings, Lunenburg, and Hants counties, Halifax Metro, Halifax County West, Cumberland County-Minas Shore, and Colchester County-Cobequid Bay.

Areas most at risk of flooding have “shifted eastward,” the hurricane centre observed. They now run more through central New Brunswick and northward into the Gaspe region and the Lower Quebec North Shore. Also the threat of heavy rains increased for western Nova Scotia.

“Rainfall totals in excess of 100 mm are possible, especially in areas to the left of the [hurricane’s] track,” the centre predicts.

The worst winds will most likely be felt in western Nova Scotia, as well as the Grand Manan Island and Coastal Charlotte County region of New Brunswick. These areas could see wind gusts as high as 120 km/h. Areas under tropical storm watch could see sustained winds of 60 km/h, with gusts of 90 km/h to 100 km/h possible.

Flooding due to surge waters appears most likely on the Atlantic coast of mainland Nova Scotia and the Fundy coast of New Brunswick.

“For Atlantic coastal Nova Scotia, breaking waves of four to six metres (15 to 20 feet) are likely,” the hurricane centre warns. “Wave conditions could also become rough in areas in the southwestern Gulf of St Lawrence [and] western Northumberland Strait.”


Photo credit: Canadian Press (CP)-This Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, 7:51 a.m. EDT satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Lee in the Atlantic Ocean. Lee looks poised to wallop New England later this week even as the region still deals with the impact of days of wild weather that produced torrential rain, flooding, sinkholes and a likely tornado. (NOAA via AP)