NASA satellite image of the storm
|Formed||February 17, 2004|
|Dissipated||February 20, 2004|
|Maximum snowfall or ice accretion||37.6 inches (95.5 cm)|
|Areas affected||Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador|
White Juan is the unofficial name given to the Atlantic Canada blizzard of February 2004, a strong nor'easter that affected most of Atlantic Canada between February 17 and 20, 2004—only five months after Hurricane Juan devastated Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The snowstorm dropped a record-breaking 95.5 cm of snow on CFB Shearwater, beating the previous record of 73.2 cm set February 1, 1960. It also broke the record for the most snow in Yarmouth with 101.2 cm of snow, surpassing the 67.8 cm that fell on January 16, 1877.
Numerous unofficial reports placed a snowfall of nearly 150 cm in many regions across the province. The storm also produced sustained winds ranging from 60 to 80 km/h through much of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador with maximum 1 minute gusts of 120 km/h reported at many stations. Much of central, northern and western New Brunswick received little to no snow or wind as the storm tracked toward the east.
Two weather stations in the Halifax Regional Municipality reported 10 seconds gusts nearing 147 km/h however these reports have never been confirmed by Environment Canada. Weather radar observations, as well as synoptic report, showed extensive thundersnow embedded within the blizzard; in the heaviest bands, accumulation rates exceeded 20 cm per hour.
The wind combined with the intense snow rates produced visibilities of 1 metre or less in most areas for brief periods however these conditions persisted for at least 8 hours in much of Nova Scotia. The wind also whipped up snow drifts which in some cases covered two- and three-storey buildings and made many roads impassable to both common motor vehicles and snow removal equipment.
The humid continental climate of coastal Nova Scotia typically does not experience extreme snowfalls, compared with northern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Thus the blizzard and heavy snow fall had a crippling effect on the Halifax Urban Area for several days following the storm as public works personnel struggled to clear streets and roads. For several nights following the storm, a 10 pm curfew was implemented on residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality to permit operation of snow removal equipment. Due to a lack of space to displace the excess snow, the municipality had to receive permission from the federal government to begin dumping the snow into Halifax Harbour from federally owned docks in addition to the usual privately owned docks.
The storm also had an effect on the 2004 Special Olympic National Winter Games, which were being held in Charlottetown, PEI.
Snowfall amounts for February 18–19
- Yarmouth 101.2 cm
- Halifax and Dartmouth 95.5 cm
- Charlottetown 74.4 cm
- Halifax International Airport 66.8 cm
- Enfield 66.6 cm
- Moncton 61.2 cm
- Port Hawkesbury 50.0 cm
- Baddeck 49.0 cm
- Sydney 40.8 cm
- Saint John 25.0 cm
- Miramichi 3.5 cm
- Fredericton 1.6 cm
- Bathurst 0.5 cm
All school districts in the area affected by the storm closed schools for several days and in some cases up to one week due to snow blocked roads, schools, parking lots, and sidewalks. The unusual number of cancelled days saw some school districts in Nova Scotia consider extending the school year into July, so many school districts added school days on.
While conditions on land proved to be serious, the storm produced hurricane force winds out at sea with 10 to 15 meter swells, prompting a special marine warning. A storm surge equivalent to that associated with a Category 1 hurricane also affected portions of the Northumberland Strait in southeast New Brunswick and to a lesser extent on Prince Edward Island.