Canada’s most destructive hurricanes

Hurricane Arthur as it makes its way towards Atlantic Canada on July 4, 2014. NASA/EOSDIS

TORONTO – With Hurricane Arthur churning of the coast of New England and making its way towards the Atlantic Provinces, Global News takes a look at some of Canada’s deadliest and most destructive hurricanes to have struck Canada.

The Newfoundland Hurricane: 1775 (also known as the Independence Hurricane)

More than 4,000 people – mostly mariners – died off the coast of Newfoundland after a massive hurricane struck the area. The hurricane carved a path of destruction along the eastern coast of the United States from North Carolina to Newfoundland.

It is often referred to as the Independence Hurricane because it occurred just as the American Revolution was beginning.

This illustration shows the path of every tropical storm and hurricane ever recorded in the U.S. and Canada. NOAA

The Galveston Hurricane: 1900

It is estimated that between 52 and 232 people were killed after the remnants of this hurricane crossed into eastern Canada Sept. 12-13, 1900.

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The hurricane began in the Atlantic Ocean before crossing over Cuba and making landfall in Galveston, Texas. It is estimated that the Galveston Hurricane was a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which measures hurricane strength. By the time it reached Canada, it is believed that it was still at hurricane strength, but down to a Category 1.

The track of the Galveston Hurricane in September 1900. NOAA

In the United States, an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people lost their lives.

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Hurricane Hazel: 1954

Perhaps the most destructive hurricane in modern Canadian history ripped through southern Ontario in October 1954 after crossing the Caribbean and eastern U.S.

Hurricane Hazel left 81 dead and a path of destruction in its wake. Almost 2,000 families were left homeless as winds hit 124 km/h  and rains flooded low-lying areas.

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READ MORE: What Hurricane Arthur will unleash on Atlantic Canada

The Greater Toronto Area was the worst hit. The Humber River swelled and broke through a footbridge, washed away an entire block of homes along the edge of the river just downstream and killed 32 people.

More than 200 mm of rain fell in 24 hours – the worst flooding in Toronto in 200 years. The water destroyed a trailer park in Woodbridge, killing another 20 residents.

Over the next several days, bodies washed up on the shores of Lake Ontario and in New York State. All traffic to and from Toronto was blocked while authorities and residents surveyed the damage, estimated at over $100 million at the time.

A family carries clothing from their shattered home after Hurricane Hazel struck Toronto in 1954. (Toronto Star Syndicate[2003] all rights reserved).

Hurricane Juan: 2003

One of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit Canada was in September 2003 when Hurricane Juan struck the eastern shores of Nova Scotia.

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Eight people were killed as Juan ripped through the province, causing $200 million in damage and leaving 300,000 people without power for two weeks.

READ MORE: Hurricane season forecasts tied to El Nino

The storm brought winds of 140 km/h, tearing down hundreds of miles of power lines and about 100 million trees. Huge waves destroyed marinas all along the coast.

Havey Whidden pauses as he views the damage to milking parlour on his farm in near Stewiacke, N.S. on Friday, Oct. 3, 2003 following Hurricane Juan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Hurricane Noel: 2007

The coast of Nova Scotia was battered again in November 2007. Hurricane Noel knocked out power to more than 170,000 homes and business in the province after battering the Caribbean and U.S. east coast.

Heavy rain and winds reaching 180 km/h washed out roads and uprooted trees. Coastal areas such as Lunenburg, Chester, Pictou and Cape Breton were the worst hit.

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Damage was reported in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and even eastern Quebec.

READ MORE: U.S. forecasters to predict slow hurricane season

Hurricane Igor: 2010

Hurricane Igor struck Newfoundland as a Category 1 storm Sept. 20-21, just weeks after Hurricane Earl struck the island portion of the province.

High winds –reaching nearly 140 km/h – accompanied by more than 200 mm of rain caused $200 million in damage and led to one death.

The Bonavista Peninsula and Random Island were two of the worst hit areas, with some communities cut off because of heavy flooding.

Damage in some areas was so bad military crews had to be called in to help with relief efforts.

–with files from Nicole Mortillaro

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