© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Waves continued to pound this boat against the dock.
Fickle Mother Nature shows Islanders full range of weekend weather conditions
The sun was shining brightly and the temperatures were in the low to mid-20s Saturday afternoon. The odds should have been very good that P.E.I. was enjoying a second sensational weekend in a row. But a third crucial element was far from benign. Once you heard the wind and then saw its destruction, you knew we were in big trouble. The gales from a very powerful but weakening former hurricane Arthur delivered a surprisingly powerful blow across the province.
With gusts well over 100 km/hr., it certainly felt close to the power of hurricane Juan more than a decade earlier. The damage on land and sea and the power outages, which continued over most of two days, certainly came close. Three boats sank at the Charlottetown yacht club, others were heavily damaged, the dock took a pounding, trees fell, branches and limbs rained down, more than 20,000 Island customers lost power for large parts of two days, and anything outdoors on Saturday became a casualty.
Islanders saw in living colour the raw power and fury of Mother Nature. Hurricane Juan arrived after midnight some 11 years ago but Arthur brazenly came ashore at midday. Those surging gusts were impressive and couldn’t have come at a worse time for outdoor events like the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, the P.E.I. Bluegrass Festival and a car show in Brudenell.
It was hard to believe how quickly the weather changed from picture perfect and hot conditions on Friday, to the calamity on Saturday and then back to a humidity-free, spectacular day later Sunday.
Arthur was a tourist’s worst nightmare — an unwelcome visitor reluctant to leave — as southeast winds gusted to really dangerous levels by noon Saturday and then shifted to equally ominous gales from the southwest by mid-afternoon.
The cancellations Saturday left tens of thousands of visitors scrambling to find other entertainment. Despite predictions that rains would reach Noachian levels, hardly a drop fell on most areas of the province. The only precipitation to fall in Kings and Queens countries came from thundershowers Friday night. West Prince did get some rain from Arthur but nothing like central areas of New Brunswick where more than 140 mms of rainfall was recorded. Can you imagine the level of misery and destruction had monsoon rains hit here along with those winds?
Let’s hope we’ve had our one and only encounter with tropical storms or hurricanes for 2014.
Staying in the saddle
Country music fans are a diehard group. They will endure severe trials and tribulations to hear their favourite artist, singers and musicians. How else do you explain the resilience of fans despite a lashing from the remnants of hurricane Arthur at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival on Saturday?
The tenacity of fans who turned out in near record numbers Sunday says a lot for the popularity of the festival, the incredible music stars it attracts and the dedication of country fans.
Friday and Sunday were ideal days for the festival, sandwiched around an apocalyptic Saturday. Less dedicated fans might have fled the province Saturday after Arthur roared into the area. But an estimated 25,000 fans were there Sunday when headliner Hunter Hayes performed an electrifying two-hour set. Stars couldn’t land at the airport Saturday so let’s hope Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton and other missing stars will be the first groups signed to come back next year.
RCMP were impressed with the disappointed but law-abiding throngs which were stranded in the Cavendish area Saturday afternoon and night. Police went out of their way to applaud fans for their decorum when things easily might have gotten out of control.