Hurricane Noel Chase Account - November 2nd-5th, 2007 - Halifax / Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
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Watch the animation of this giant wave and note how the parking lot gets flooded from this one wave.
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Ultimate Chase's Location During Hurricane Noel: Clark's Harbor and Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Satellite Image Showing Ultimate Chase's Location at Peggy's Cove:
Image Courtesy: Canada Weather Office
My personal barometer data during Noel:
I recorded a barometric pressure of 967mb during Noel's closest approach to my first location at
Clark's Harbor around 2am before I went east to get further away from the center.
Hurricane / Nor'easter Noel Stock Photos:






Hurricane / Nor'easter Noel Chase Account Below:
Chase Account: I’ve wanted to document a strong Nor’easter for many years and finally got my chance with Noel. I started tracking Noel from his early stages of development and watched as he made a beeline straight for South Florida (Where I Live) then turned north. Noel was forecast to become a strong Nor’easter by all the computer models and I felt confident enough to take a chance and fly to Nova Scotia for his arrival. This was a new experience for me because I’m usually trying to get as close to the center of the storm as possible to document the highest winds but in a Nor’easter it’s the opposite. The winds aren’t as strong in the center as they are further from the center to the east. The tricky part is to find this perfect spot that isn’t too close to the center but yet not too far away. I arrive the day before Noel’s arrival and started scouting locations to document this new journey. When I travel somewhere to document an event I set goals as to what I want to achieve and film. This particular event I was not as concerned with getting high winds but wanted to document some monster waves that are known to affect Nova Scotia during these storms. I teamed up with Canadian Storm Chasers George Kourounis and Mark Robinson about midday and we decided to keep a close eye on Noel’s track and determine at midnight if we should stay put or relocate. We hung tight at Clark’s Harbor which is on the extreme South-West coast of Nova Scotia and started to realize that we would be too close to the center at this location so we decided to relocate to our east to a famous place called Peggy’s Cove. I had scouted this location the day before and liked it because it was a point that stuck out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and had a really cool lighthouse that would look great in the foreground of giant waves. We drove through the night in the wind and rain and watched as my barometer bottomed out at 967mb at Noel’s closest approach. The pressure read lower as we were driving east but after the 967mb reading I can’t confirm these lower readings because we were driving on higher elevations which affects the pressure so the lowest I can positively confirm is 967mb while at sea level at Clarks Harbor. After about 4 hours on the road we arrived just before daybreak and came across some hazards and obstacles to overcome before getting out to the lighthouse point. There was storm surge washing over the road in several places and parts of the road that might become undermined. Plus it was pitch dark because the power was already knocked out and we were getting wind gusts up to 75mph. The strongest winds had already occurred and it was obvious these causeways had larger waves before we got there because there were large boulders in the road that had to get there from powerful water. We figured out a way to safely get across the water hazards and George walked ahead and cleared the road of any objects that could puncture our tires.  As the sun started to rise we made it to our destination, Peggy’s Cove !
The moment we arrived at Peggy’s Cove things got really crazy. With the little bit of daylight we were starting to receive we could see and hear giant waves crashing on the rock barrier that was around this island we were now on. We became concerned after seeing massive boulders that were lying all over the asphalt parking lot at the point. Where these boulders landed the ground was scoured and cracked and most impressive was a building that had a giant hole in the side of it where a boulder went flying though. We knew we had just missed this happening and had to make sure there wasn’t going to be anymore flying boulders that could hit our vehicles and possible injure us. We watched these waves for some time and waited for the sun to rise and give us proper lighting to start documenting this event. I knew the center had already passed Nova Scotia so the waves were on a downward trend and wanted to document the tail end of this event so I started to shoot video and photos. One of my favorite photos is a classic shot of a lighthouse with a massive waves crashing into it and I’ve always wanted to get a shot like that of my own. The Lighthouse was there and the massive waves were occurring but the lighthouse was on the wrong side of the island to get hit by these massive waves. The waves were really impressive but I was disappointed that there was really nothing to give these waves scale to show the viewer just how big these waves were. I asked George if he would park his vehicle in front of my shot to help me achieve this and he agreed. We were getting some massive waves around 30 feet tall off the ocean that would crash into the rocks and shoot up another 30 feet and this was really impressive. I was getting good photos but still not that perfect crazy shot I was looking for until, Crash, Whoosh, a rogue wave hit the rock hill and shoot up an estimate 100-120 feet into the air. The waves were so massive that it looked like they were crashing in slow motion. I snapped away as fast as I could and then got so mesmerized by the sound this wave produced and the size of this monster that I froze and the massive wave came right at me while sitting in my SUV. I probably could’ve put my window up in time but didn’t and I received a salt water blast like no other. This wave came into my SUV and soaked all my camera gear. I was at least 200 feet back and was nowhere near getting wet with the other waves but this one rouge wave had my name all over it. Oh yea, what about George whom you see in the photo with the yellow jacket? He was much closer to the wave and was outside fully exposed. Luckily George wasn’t hit by any debris or boulders and came out OK with no injuries. He said it was one of the eeriest things he’s ever seen to look straight up and see this massive wave crashing over his head. We think this one massive wave was the average sized wave just hours earlier and there must have been even bigger waves than this one to leave all these boulders everywhere. Of all the hurricanes I’ve documented I’ve never seen waves this big. I quickly looked at the photo on my digital camera and knew I had a winner. One of the hardest things to do as a storm photographer is to show the power of these storms in a still image. This one photo had achieved my goal of documenting a massive wave and showing the power of water.

We continued to document smaller waves waiting for another one of these massive waves but the waves only got smaller and smaller and we knew the show was over. Many locals started to drive out to the point and we actually had traffic jams with all the CNN I-Reporters jamming the small roads that lead to the lighthouse point. We had been up for over 36 hours and was completely fried mentally and decided to call it a chase and head back to the hotel. I spent a lot of money traveling to Nova Scotia to document this Nor’easter and felt justified by this one single rouge wave. I was getting really concerned halfway through the expedition that I would walk away from this event with only so-so materiel because the strongest winds hit at night time and it was impossible to document. It’s funny how these expeditions work. I’m always stressed out about making the trip worth the expense and sometimes it’s really easy to get good powerful shots from the very beginning of the chase and other times I get right to the end of the storm with nothing great when all of a sudden something happens to redeem the trip.

Special Thanks to the great people of Nova Scotia and to Patrick Helliwell for the advice and tips.
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