For one week, Hurricane Juan moved across the Atlantic before making a dash to the north, and eventually landfalling in Nova Scotia as a Category Two Hurricane with sustained winds of 105 mph, and a minimum central pressure of 28.61 inches of Hg. The storm ended up being one of the most devastating storms in the history of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which last experienced a direct hit from the eyewall of a hurricane in August, 1893.
After people in Canada lobbied hard to have the name retired, Juan's name was finally put out to pasture by the National Hurricane Center. It joined Fabian, which was the worst storm to hit Bermuda in over 50 years, and Isabel, the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic Basin in almost five years as the 2003 Atlantic Hurricane Season's entries into the retired storm name list.
The life cycle of Hurricane Juan was a lot longer than just the five or six days it roamed the Atlantic as either a tropical storm, or hurricane. Juan actually had its origins off the coast of Africa as a meager tropical wave. As it headed westward over the next nine to ten days, it had a lot in front of it in terms of Hurricane Isabel although by this time, Isabel was well on its way to making landfall over the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Nevertheless, a powerful hurricane such as Isabel does have a tendency to stir up the waters a bit, and bring up cooler waters through a process called upwelling. By September 20th though, the wave axis that was to become Juan had more shower and thunderstorm activity associated with it, but was still poorly organized some 600 miles to the East of the Lesser Antilles. It was at this point that the wave was interacting with an upper level low that resulted from the outflow of what had been Hurricane Isabel.
Isabel had grown to become a very vast system as a result of its weakening. Hurricanes tend to do this in order to satisfy physical laws of conservation. These laws include conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. As a hurricane weakens, and its winds subside, momentum is conserved by expanding in size to compensate for the loss in sustained wind velocity. Consequently, the outflow took up much more area, and influenced even this wave in the Central Atlantic.
It seemed to have the characteristics of an extratropical system over the next few days, but gradually, that went away as it acquired more tropical characteristics. So, on the 24th of September as it was some 300 miles to the Southeast of the resort island of Bermuda, the wave was classified as a tropical depression. Over the next 48 hours, the system increased in strength and became a hurricane early in the morning on September 26, 2003.
In response to the expansion of the subtropical ridge in the North Central Atlantic, Juan moved to the north and then northwest over the next several days. The now Category Two Hurricane with 105 mph winds, and 969 mb central pressure then got to the periphery of the ridge, and began turning back toward the north. Nova Scotia and the rest of the Canadian Maritimes were now in the cross hairs.
Juan, which had made the transition not only to a hurricane, but all the way from a tropical wave, and a subtropical system, had managed to get into the Gulf Stream, and intensify into a significant storm although it failed to reach major hurricane status. The storm was making a beeline for Halifax, Nova Scotia, which hasn't seen a direct hit from a landfalling hurricane in over a century.
The hurricane had increased in forward speed, which is what you normally see with such storms as they moved into the Northern Atlantic, where the Westerlies have a strong influence, and the reach of the subtropical ridge slacks off. Reaching the periphery of the Bermuda High, which had helped Juan steer to the Northwest, the potent storm turned to the right. After reaching its peak intensity on the 27th of September at about 2:00 PM EDT, Juan began to weaken a bit as it entered cooler water.
Nevertheless, its rapid forward motion was able to serve to purposes. One, it allowed it to maintain most of its intensity, and two for those, who were in the path of the northeast quadrant of the storm, increased momentum from the counterclockwise motion meant higher winds. The train was on its way to Halifax, and in the late evening of September 28th, and early morning of September 29th, Hurricane Juan roared ashore near the capital city of Nova Scotia between Prospect and Peggy's Cove.
Even though the storm had weakened, Hurricane Juan still managed to cross the entire province of Nova Scotia as a hurricane, and also held on to its tropical characteristics as it moved into another Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island. Eventually though, Juan became absorbed by an extratropical low stirring about in the Gulf of St. Lawrence well out in the Canadian Maritimes.
However, the storm left behind quite a bit of damage. There were widespread reports of fallen trees, downed power lines, and damaged homes and businesses. There were eight deaths either directly or indirectly blamed on the strong storm. A storm surge of nearly five feet above normal was reported in the vicinity of Halifax. While there was no estimate given on how much damage was done, Hurricane Juan has been recorded as one of the most devastating storms to hit Nova Scotia in over a hundred years.
Seeing and understanding what the storm had done, and what it meant in terms of history to the people of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, officials in the Canadian government including those working for the Canadian Hurricane Center, which actually had its offices damaged by the storm, strongly urged to have Juan's name retired. As a result, in 2009 when the storm names from the 2003 season are refreshed, Juan's named will be replaced by Joaquin.
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