In recent years, Atlantic Canada has been battered by an increasing number of destructive storms, Hurricane Juan being one of the most memorable. Such severe weather has raised the fear of flooding due to storm surges, which occur when low pressure and strong onshore winds raise the water level up a metre or more above normal. With rising sea levels, storm surges will inundate areas never before flooded.
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On September 29, 2003, Hurricane Juan struck near Halifax with raging winds of 158 kilometres an hour and a storm surge as high as two metres. Eight people were killed. The hurricane caused flooding and power outages that lasted for two weeks in some areas. In January 2000, Charlottetown was hit by a storm surge that caused extensive flooding in the city’s core. Higher storm surges resulting from increasing sea levels are of increasing concern for residents of Charlottetown, where the relative sea level has risen about 32 centimetres since 1911. This could have serious economic impacts, damaging commercial and residential properties, including many heritage buildings, as well as roads, water pipes and sewers. In planning future development, coastal municipalities throughout the Atlantic provinces must consider the potential effects of rising sea levels and flooding caused by storm surges.