How does Dorian compare to 2003’s Hurricane Juan?

Hurricane Dorian blew through the Maritimes this weekend bringing heavy rain, pounding surf, storm surge and severe winds that knocked out power to more than half a million homes and businesses by Saturday evening.

So how does Dorian compare to 2003’s Hurricane Juan, arguably the most infamous storm to have ever hit Nova Scotia? 

Dorian was officially a post-tropical storm at landfall. Post-tropical does not mean weaker, however, as Dorian was still estimated to have had Category 2 hurricane-strength sustained winds of 155 km/h on its southside. Thankfully, those winds remained offshore.

Similarly, Juan made landfall with satellite-estimated sustained winds of 160 km/h as a Category 2 hurricane.

But for two storms with similar stats at landfall, their impacts were very different across the region.


Hurricane Juan came in like a freight train on a very unique track. Moving from south to north, Juan’s path put the Halifax region directly in the crosshairs of its most severe winds, just to the right of the storm track.

Juan’s top winds were recorded at McNabs Island with a two-minute sustained wind of 151 km/h and gusts to 176 km/h. At nearby Shearwater, winds were clocked at 130 km/h and even further inland, gusts topped 142 km/h at Halifax airport.

With those wicked winds, Hurricane Juan brought massive amounts of damage to the Halifax region. Millions of trees were downed or damaged and infrastructure in the region took a major hit, especially along Halifax harbour.

The municipality estimated that 31 per cent of residential homes were damaged. Juan is the most damaging storm in modern Halifax history and was the worst to hit the city since 1893.

Hurricane Juan made landfall just west of Halifax as a Category 2 hurricane. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

While Halifax was ground zero, it certainly wasn’t the only region hurt by Juan.

The storm downed trees, power lines and caused damage all across central Nova Scotia before doing the same to P.E.I. Power outages were in the hundreds of thousands and lasted for nearly two weeks.


Perhaps the biggest difference between Juan and Dorian was that Dorian was a larger storm overall. And when a storm transitions to post-tropical, its wind field actually spreads out from the centre to become even wider.

With a track from southwest to northeast through the centre of the Maritimes, it insured that the rain and wind impacts were more far reaching than with Juan.

Hurricane Dorian brought more widespread damage than Juan. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

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