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Fires, floods and Fiona: Nova Scotia has endured a great deal of extreme weather


Nova Scotia has seen a significant number of extremely devastating weather events this year.

Prior to last week’s record rainfall and flash flooding, there were widespread wildfires that caused the destruction of more than 200 homes, and in September there was devastating damage from post-tropical storm Fiona.

It raises the question, have we reached a climate change tipping point?

One climate advocate with the Ecology Action Centre said we may have already tipped the climate change scale, and we need to go "all-in" to address climate change plans.

"Those have to be wake-up calls to, obviously to the communities and those impacted but to everyone else," said Will Balser, referencing the severe weather events that have impacted Nova Scotia this year already.

CTV Atlantic News meteorologist Kalin Mitchell has looked at the numbers which show the flash flooding event we saw last week was historic, with an excess of 150 to 300 millimetres of rainfall in certain places.

"For a lot of those locations the average amount of rain for the entire month of July is around 95 to 100 millimetres," said Mitchell. "So we picked up twice and potentially three times the monthly amount of rain between a time span of 12 to 15 hours."

Mitchell said we could see a higher frequency of these kinds of severe rain events in the future because of the warming climate.

"A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour in it, so you have more moisture available for these types of severe weather events," said Mitchell.

With these kinds of extreme weather events happening more frequently here and around the globe, it speaks to the need for greater action around climate change adaptation and mitigation, Balser said.

“We have a national adaptation strategy, we have a climate plan in Nova Scotia," said Balser.

“Again the technicalities of what we need to do are a solved conclusion as far as I am concerned, we just need funding and we need that work to occur very rapidly."

Part of dealing with climate change and limiting the impacts of these extreme weather events is to protect nature, like old-growth forests, wetlands and dunes that act like a buffer, said Balser.

“It costs billions of dollars to restore a wetland or establish a new wetland and so we just don't have that time," said Balser.

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment and Climate Change has a July 31 deadline to release its Climate Change and Action Plan progress report, it's something Balser is looking forward to reviewing.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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