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'Yes — this is the new normal': Lee damage relatively minor, but more big Maritime storms expected


Post-tropical storm Lee rolled through the region over the weekend, bringing heavy winds and flash flooding, and experts say there's likely more storms to come in the years ahead.

Visiting her daughter in Halifax from Australia, Sue Davenport said post-tropical storm Lee turned out to be a bit of an adventure for her.

"We only lost power for a short amount of time. A few of Danny's friends came over — because their power was out for some hours, so it was actually quite a nice weekend, really," she said while walking a dog through Point Pleasant Park.

"A good excuse to stay indoors."

Davenport was well-prepared for the visit.

"They'd explained to me last year about ‘Cyclone Chips,’ and how you've got to hit your stores and everything," she said with a smile.

"I just felt it was part of what we experience as human beings is the weather. You've just got to roll with it."

Others expressed relief that damage from the storm was limited.

"Definitely relieved. It wasn't as bad as what we've had in the last couple of years," said Daniel Arsenault, a podcaster who lives in the city's south end.

"I was here for Dorian, Fiona, and then Hurricane Juan back in the day," said Emma Cameron, visiting the park with her five month old baby, Franklin.

"These once in a lifetime hurricanes and storms that are happening every year… It's definitely concerning."

"To be clear, they actually are all rare events," said Gary Lines, VP of science and technology for the environmental site assessment firm ClimAction.

"They don't happen every week, they don't happen every month," said Lines, a retired meteorologist turned climate change consultant.

"Luckily with hurricanes, they're less frequent enough that we can prepare adequately for them. And the forecasting has improved dramatically over the past 20 years in warning us that this is coming."

"However, that doesn't mean that we're not really going to have a landfall in another couple of years. Again, more damage," he said.

"So, from that perspective, yes, this is the 'new normal.'"

Lines is convinced the increasing frequency demonstrates the impact of climate change.

"I think we're seeing it. I think the strength of the storms is evidence of that. Climate change leads us to this warmer water in the North Atlantic this year. It wasn't the only factor, but it was a predominant factor. So, yes, it's definitely a climate change signal, and it will continue," said Lines.

"Over the last several years, we've had some busier seasons, for sure," said CTV Atlantic Meteorologist Kalin Mitchell, noting that general anxiety about natural disasters is higher in the region because Maritimers have been dealing with fires and floods.

There's also a natural inclination to compare Lee with the last major storm — Fiona.

"That was top level, right? We don't get storms like that. It was an historic storm. It's a benchmark storm," said Mitchell.

"So, any weather event that's going to come after that that has a tie-in to tropical weather is going to garner some comparisons."

Davenport doesn't need any convincing that weather patterns are changing.

"Events like this are going to happen around the world: flooding and cyclones and typhoons, depending on what part of the world you're in," she said.

"And that's part of climate change." Top Stories

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