Top News

Windstorms not directly linked to climate change: Environment Canada

An April 4 windstorm caused damage and stress for many Annapolis Valley farmers including Emily teBogt.
An April 4 windstorm caused damage and stress for many Annapolis Valley farmers including Emily teBogt. - Sara Ericsson

Models show higher winds happen, but link with climate change not yet understood

CANNING, N.S. —

Richard Melvin says he and many other farmers are being advised to buy tougher greenhouses due to windstorms that seem to be hitting more frequently.

Melvin is the former Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture chair and the owner of Canning-based Melvin Farms Ltd. He says his greenhouse supplier now recommends he purchase a thicker gauge of plastic due to higher winds becoming more of a trend and less of a singular event.

Melvin says damage caused during the April 4 windstorm was the latest such incident that saw winds tear through his greenhouses. He says wind damage seems to be something farmers are increasingly having to grapple with.

“We’re going to start taking this step to hopefully withstand higher wind events,” he says.

Environment and Climate Change Canada spokesperson Marilyne Lavoie says adjusted surface wind speed observations over a 50-year period show increases in the Maritimes in spring and autumn, and decreases in other regions of Canada for all four seasons.

But she cautions such short-term trends cannot be owed to climate change because no major evidence exists suggesting a strong connection between it and local wind speed.

“Climate models generally project a decrease in the total number of extratropical cyclones but also an increase in the intensity of the strongest cyclones, suggesting an increase in extreme winds in seasons with active cyclones,” she says, noting such models vary per region. “Thus, future projection for particular regions is highly uncertain.”

Whether due to climate change or not, Amherst greenhouse supplier Paul Bourque, of Octa Greenhouse Sales Ltd., says reports from farmers he distributes to in the Annapolis Valley and across the province continue to indicate more wind damage to greenhouses.

His company distributes for Quebec-based Harnois Greenhouses and now recommends a higher-grade plastic as a result.

“We’d get these high wind events once every few years. Now we’re getting them two or three times a year, and so the frequency seems to be increasing,” he says.

Canning farmer Andrew Rand is the operations and sales manager at Randsland Farms Inc. and saw many of his farm’s 14 greenhouses damaged during the April 4 windstorm.

He says wind preparation plans will be made to ensure the farms’ crops don’t fall prey to such windstorms in the future.

“It’s a scary nod to what we can expect in the future. Who knows that we couldn’t see a windstorm twice this strength in nine to 10 years,” he says.

Sara.Ericsson@kingscountynews.ca

RELATED:

Recent Stories