Monday, February 2, 1976 started as have countless other days.
If for no other reason it would have possibly been assured a place in history as nothing more significant than ‘Groundhog Day’, that time of the year when it is said the severity of winter will be determined by whether or not the tiny groundhog can see his shadow.
Despite its seemingly normal beginning February 2, 1976 etched its place in the annals of the area’s history not because of the groundhog but because of incidents which unfolded throughout the day starting in mid-morning.
Before the day was over, those who had witnessed the untamed forces of nature spread a path of destruction throughout the area, had seen such stormy fury that undoubtedly everyone will have the memories of the day permanently etched in their minds.
Weather forecasts concerning February 2nd, did not indicate there would be anything akin to what eventually developed. One early morning weather report called for winds of around 35 miles per hour, it hadn’t been snowing, and relatively speaking winter had known worse days.
However by noon hour in South Western Nova Scotia the general population was not in need of radio relayed weather forecasts to let them know what was occurring.
Winds were recorded at over 100 miles an hour at one point during the storm and everyone near the seacoast was well aware that the tide was higher than it had ever been seen.
High winds coupled with the abnormally high water level threw wharf planking into the air as if the structures were made of balsa wood.
Fishing vessels everywhere were damaged, many of them snapping their moorings like thread and being set at the winds mercy. A sunken vessel was a common sight along most waterfronts. Estimates of damage to the fishing industry have been measured in the tens of millions of dollars.
The storm lasted throughout the day and even when it subsided most of the area was left with a reminder of its fury that will be remembered forever . Falling trees and other results of the Groundhog Day storm saw to it that electrical power was cut off. While those faced with the arduous task of restoring power to the numerous communities worked long hard hours there were still some areas which were without power for days.
The age of electricity was quickly replaced by candles, kerosene, and woodburning.
The destruction to South Western Nova Scotia, and other parts of the Atlantic Provinces, was such that it was described in the Senate in Ottawa as making the area one in a state of emergency. Despite millions of dollars of damage there was no loss of life in South Western Nova Scotia attributed to the worst storm in the area’s history.
Fundy Group Publications Ltd.