Saturday's post-tropical storm caused a lot of tree damage across the county, especially in Parrsboro and Oxford.
AMHERST – When Tony Mitchell heard the crash he thought it was thunder – until he looked toward his sun porch at the front of the house.
“It happened around 5:30 or so. We had the kids in the highchairs and were just getting ready for supper when there was this horrendous crash,” Mitchell said. “I looked out toward the sun porch and saw a giant branch lying across the front of the yard.”
The branch broke off a tree beside his Harding Avenue home and narrowly missed the front of the house. It tore the electrical hookup off the house, but didn’t knock out his power.
“Since I still had power I wasn’t a high priority because of all the other outages, but it sort of freaked me out because the kids are usually out there playing in the sun porch,” Mitchell said. “It’s not something I want to think about.”
Not wanting to take any chances, he and his wife loaded the children into the car and spent the night at his mother’s, and while he doesn’t want to remove the remnants of the tree it’s something he’s probably going to have to do.
“That’s one of the reasons we chose to live where we do is because of the trees,” he said. “I would hate to have to remove it but will likely be left with no choice.”
The tree was one of many to topple when post-tropical storm Arthur stormed through Cumberland County on Saturday, knocking out power to thousands of county residents and as many as 200,000 Nova Scotia Power customers.
Numerous trees were felled in both Parrsboro and Oxford, taking out power lines and causing damage to some properties. Trees were also damaged in Eaton Park in Pugwash and the wind cause damage to the park’s stage.
Meteorologist Bob Robichaud of Environment Canada said the storm acted pretty much as forecast, with a slight track adjustment to the west. He said the storm’s centre moved just to the west of Amherst and the county’s peak wind gust, 127 km/h, was recorded by a volunteer weather observer at Two Islands near Parrsboro.
“It did what we expected it would,” Robichaud said. “We had anticipated a landfall anywhere between southwestern Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick. It followed the track we said it would on Friday.”
Robichaud said the storm was so bad in portions of New Brunswick because it was re-energized by an approaching trough of low pressure coming into the Maritimes from the Great Lakes.
That’s why it was so wet and windy in central New Brunswick, while Cumberland County felt the strong winds because it was on the east side of the storm – where traditionally the winds are strongest.
“There seemed to be a band of strong winds that moved through the Amherst area on Saturday night. We had one gust at 97 km/h,” Robichaud said.
Robichaud said it’s not unusual to have storms like this in late June or early July, but they don’t happen very often. He also said it doesn’t mean the hurricane season that runs until November will be busier.
“It’s expected there will be an El Nino developing by the end of the summer and that usually keeps the number of these types of storms lower, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “We still believe we’ll be close to the average number of storms or slightly below.”
Kathryn O’Neill with Nova Scotia Power said crews are continuing to work to restore power across the province. As of late Monday there were still 30,000 without power, including people in the Oxford Junction and Parrsboro areas.
O’Neill said she understands people’s frustrations at having no power, but said crews are working as quickly as they can to get power restored.
“We expect to have the majority of those customers reconnected by 11:30 tomorrow night. There are some pockets where it may not happen until Thursday,” O’Neill said.
Power crews were prepared for the storm, she said, and responded to the outages as they occurred. She said the ferocity of the storm did cause some issues in restoring power and some estimates were adjusted as crews arrived in each area.