HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Four people are missing after intense storms dumped record amounts of rain across a wide swath of the province of Nova Scotia, on Canada’s Atlantic coast, over the past two days, causing flash flooding, road washouts and power outages.
Flooding submerged several vehicles, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Cindy Bayers said two such incidents in West Hants, north of Halifax, have left two adults and two children missing as of Saturday morning.
The two children disappeared after the vehicle they were traveling in became trapped underwater, Bayers said, noting that the other three occupants were able to escape safely.
Two other people, whom Bayers described as a young man and a man, are still missing after a separate dive from the vehicle. Two other people in that vehicle were rescued, he said, adding that police are actively searching for the four missing people.
Torrential downpours began Friday afternoon in the Halifax region, dumping more than 200mm of rain in some areas. The port city normally receives around 90-100mm of rain during an average July.
Based on radar estimates and unofficial observations, Environment Canada said Saturday that some areas may have received more than 300mm in 24 hours. Radar maps show the heaviest rainfall extending along the southwestern coast of the province to a point north of Halifax.
Widespread flooding was also reported in Lunenberg County, which is west of the Halifax region.
On Friday night, water levels rose so fast in the Bedford area that Halifax Search and Rescue volunteers were using small boats to rescue people from flooded homes.
In the Hammonds Plains area, northwest of the city, floodwaters washed out driveways and the shoulders of many roads.
That’s the same area where 151 homes and businesses were destroyed by a wildfire that started May 28 and forced 16,000 residents to evacuate. And for much of the past week, the Halifax area has been sweltering under an immobile dome of moisture, a rare event so close to the coast.
It was just last fall that Post-Tropical Storm Fiona descended on the Mid-Atlantic region, killing three people, leveling dozens of homes, and knocking out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses. Fiona was the costliest weather event in the region’s history, causing more than C$800 million ($604 million) in insured damage.
“It’s pretty obvious that the weather is changing, from Fiona last year to the wildfires in the spring and now the flooding in the summer,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said.
«We’re getting storms that used to be considered a one-in-50-year event… quite regularly,» he added.
While official statistics have not yet been recorded, it is believed that the Halifax region has not seen this level of rain since August 16, 1971, when Hurricane Beth made landfall near the eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia and then roared over Cape Breton. At the time, nearly 250mm of rain fell in the Halifax area, causing widespread flooding and damage.