Originally created 09/30/03

Juan hits Canada's eastern coast with winds and torrential rains



HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Hurricane Juan lashed Nova Scotia with winds and torrential rains, killing at least one person and knocking out power to thousands before being downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it churned toward Prince Edward Island.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from low-lying areas and Nova Scotia's power authority warned people to stay indoors Monday because falling trees had knocked down a "terrific" number of still-live power lines.

Halifax, the largest city on Canada's east coast, received the brunt of Juan's punch with wind speeds reaching 89 mph early Monday.

"It was quite a fantastic event," said Carolyn Marshall, spokeswoman at Canada's Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

At least one death was blamed on the storm. An ambulance driver was killed when an uprooted tree crushed his vehicle near the Camp Hill Hospital in Halifax, officials said.

In nearby Dartmouth, fierce winds tore off an apartment building's roof and knocked down a wall in a hallway, trapping about three people inside, firefighters said. Police dug through the rubble but reported no injuries.

"We're not sure how stable it is and we're not taking any chances," said fire chief Tim Bookholt. "It's been a busy night. I hope the worst of it is over."

At least 200 residents were evacuated from the four-story building - many of them seniors - and bused to a local hockey arena as a temporary shelter.

In Halifax, the swirling storm system knocked out power to significant areas as downed tree limbs cartwheeled through city streets and damaged cars.

The exact number of people left without electricity wasn't known early Monday, but it was "in the thousands," said Margaret Murphy, a spokeswoman for Nova Scotia Power.

Audrey Russell, from the coastal town of Eastern Passage, grabbed a tooth brush, toothpaste, her cat and some clothes and then headed for refuge in a nearby firehall.

"I was kind of worried, so I didn't want to stay around too long," Russell said.

Juan was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane earlier Sunday and had lost some of its ferocity by the time it reached cooler waters off Nova Scotia. A Category 1 hurricane has winds ranging from 74 to 95 mph.

In 1996, when Hurricane Hortense brushed past Halifax, the storm surge topped three feet, and winds uprooted trees and left tens of thousands without power. Tropical storms routinely soak Atlantic Canada each summer and autumn, but a full-fledged hurricane making landfall is rare.

Juan arrives a week after Hurricane Isabel hit the U.S. coast, killing 40 people from North Carolina to New Jersey and knocking out electrical service to 6 million customers as far north as New York.

Meanwhile, at 4:45 a.m. EDT, Tropical Storm Kate swirled in the Atlantic far from land. Its center was about 970 miles southwest of Lajes in the Azores Islands. Kate had maximum sustained winds near 65 mph and was moving toward the northeast near 14 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.