Ex-Dorian Slams Canada at Cat 2 Strength; Cat 3 Typhoon Faxai Pounding Tokyo

September 8, 2019, 4:01 PM EDT

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Above: A street is blocked by fallen trees as a result of Hurricane Dorian pounding the area with heavy rain and wind in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP).

Hurricane Dorian rampaged through eastern Canada overnight after making landfall in eastern Nova Scotia at 6:15 pm AST Saturday as an extratropical cyclone with Category 2 winds of 100 mph and a pressure of 958 mb. At landfall, Dorian’s wind field was huge, with hurricane-force winds that extended out 115 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds that extended out 310 miles.

Dorian’s powerful winds and storm surge caused extensive damage in Nova Scotia. According to Environment Canada, Dorian knocked out power to over 500,000 customers in the Canadian Maritime Provinces; 400,000 of these cases were in Nova Scotia—about 80% of the province--which may be their all-time record. Tree damage was very heavy, and a large construction crane in Halifax collapsed over a building during the storm (video here).


Serious coastal damage was reported due to a large storm surge, which reached near-record levels for Halifax Harbor. Along the east coast of New Brunswick, the surge reached record values for Lower Escuminac, and the surge at Shediac exceeded warning levels but was not a record.

The highest gust reported on land in Canada was 90 mph (145 km/h) at Beaver Island in eastern Nova Scotia. Wind gusts over 62 mph (100 km/h) were widespread except in sheltered areas over Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Rainfall amounts over 4 inches (100 mm) were reported over areas of Nova Scotia and Southeastern New Brunswick. Elsewhere, rainfall totals of 2 – 4 inches (50-100 mm) were widespread.

Ex-Dorian the third strongest hurricane or ex-hurricane to hit Canada

According to the NOAA Historical Hurricane Tracks website, only four Category 2 or stronger hurricanes have made landfall in Canada since records began in 1851. The site does not list any ex-hurricanes that hit Canada with Category 2-strength winds. Dorian’s landfall intensity of 100 mph winds is thus tied for the third-strongest winds of any hurricane or ex-hurricane to hit Canada. Here are Canada’s four Category 2 hurricanes of record:

Hurricane Ginny of 1963, which made landfall in southwestern Nova Scotia as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds.

Hurricane Gerda of 1969, which made crossed into New Brunswick Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds after making landfall in eastern Maine.

Hurricane Michael of 2000, which made landfall in Newfoundland as a Category 2 storm with 100 mph winds.

Hurricane Juan of 2003, which took a worst-case track and hit Halifax, Nova Scotia as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds, killing 8 and causing $200 million in damage--Canada’s most expensive hurricane on record.

Figure 1. Tropical wave 94L as seen on Sunday morning, September 8, 2019. Image credit: NASA.

Little change to 94L, headed towards the Lesser Antilles

A tropical wave (94L) located at 11am EDT Sunday near 15N, 39W, several hundred miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, was headed west at about 15 mph. The wave had developed a more pronounced spin at mid-levels of the atmosphere compared to Saturday, but otherwise, his system had changed little.

Satellite images on Sunday morning showed that 94L had a high amount of spin and a modest amount of heavy thunderstorm activity. The relatively limited heavy thunderstorm activity was due to dry air, as seen on the latest Saharan Air Layer Analysis.

The 6Z Sunday run of the SHIPS model predicted that the atmosphere in front of 94L would have mostly favorable conditions for development, though, with low wind shear and sea surface temperatures of 28 – 29°C (82 – 84°F). However, mid-level relative humidity was predicted to remain near 55%, which is on the dry side. Dry air will inhibit development unless 94L can generate enough heavy thunderstorm activity to moisten the atmosphere. The low shear will aid this process.

The 0Z and 6Z Sunday runs of our three top models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis—the GFS, European and UKMET—all showed no support for development, and none of the 70 members of the 0Z ensemble runs of the GFS and European models showed 94L reaching the Lesser Antilles Islands as a tropical depression.

The tropical wave is predicted to take a track mostly west over the coming week, and 94L could arrive in the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Friday, September 13. In their 8 am EDT Sunday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave this system 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 10% and 40%, respectively. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Humberto.

The models are much more enthused about a tropical wave predicted to come off the coast of Africa on Tuesday. The 0Z Sunday GFS and UKMET models both showed this wave developing late in the week as it headed west towards the Lesser Antilles Islands. This wave will benefit from the moister atmosphere that 94L is creating in its wake.

Faxai takes aim on Tokyo area

The world’s largest metropolitan area was hammered on Sunday night by one of its strongest direct hits from a typhoon on record. Typhoon Faxai was packing 1-minute sustained winds of 115 mph as of 8 am EDT Sunday, making it the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Faxai had intensified on Friday and Saturday from tropical storm strength (65 mph) to Cat 4 strength (130 mph) in just 30 hours, according to JTWC. Faxai’s center was heading almost directly for Tokyo on Sunday night, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), as seen on JMA radar. This track could put at least parts of the metro area in the punishing winds of the typhoon’s right-hand side. Faxai’s hurricane-force winds extend out to 50 miles northeast from its center. Update: Faxai made an initial landfall near Yokosuka around 18Z Sunday (3 am Monday local time), with the center passing over Tokyo Bay just a few miles southeast of central Tokyo and coming ashore at the north end of the bay a little before 21Z (6 am local time).

As Faxai approached, record wind gusts were recorded late Sunday at six stations in the Izu islands, which extend south from the Izu peninsula along Faxai’s path. (The period of record appears to be quite short, though.) The strongest of these gusts was 58.1 meters per second (130 mph) at Kozushima village at 9:03 pm local time Sunday. Update: Winds gusted to 97 mph at Tokyo's Haneda (International) Airport, with record-high sustained winds of 31.6 meters per second (70.7 mph).

Tokyo’s most destructive storm was the 1917 Taisho typhoon that made landfall about 50 miles southwest of Tokyo Bay, pushing surge into the bay. Storm surge from that typhoon killed more than 1300 people and flooding more than 300,000 houses. Faxai’s central pressure of 955 mb is not far from the 1917 storm’s 953-mb estimated central pressure.

Much of Tokyo now sits below sea level, the result of massive underground pumping in the last few decades. However, billions of dollars in flood and surge protection infrastructure has helped to reduce Tokyo Bay’s vulnerability to surge, despite the area's massive increase in population. In a paper led by Sakayo Hoshino, “Climate Change and Coastal Defences in Tokyo Bay,” the authors argued that sea level rise from climate change may jeopardize the structures designed to shield the tens of millions of people from storm surge. “Though the cities around Tokyo Bay are generally well protected by coastal structures against storm surge, the combination of sea level rise and an increase in typhoon intensity could eventually require the strengthening of these defenses to mitigate against these effects of climate change,” wrote the authors.

Bob Henson co-wrote this post.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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