HALIFAX — An active Atlantic hurricane season is expected to begin next week, and experts are urging those in the region to be prepared.
Bob Robichaud, a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, says the latest data predicts up to 21 storms this year in the Atlantic Ocean that will be strong enough to warrant a name. That number is on par with last year's 21 named storms and much higher than the 30-year average of 14 named storms in a season, Robichaud said Tuesday.
"It's impossible to say exactly where these storms are going to go at this particular point in time, or if they'll have any impact on land," he told reporters via teleconference from Dartmouth, N.S. "Where these storms go depends on the weather of the day, and that's what we're not able to predict this far in advance."
Still, he said, residents of Atlantic Canada should assess their risk depending on where they live and how exposed they are, and then make a plan to stay safe.
Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and runs until the end of November, with peak activity expected between mid-August and mid-October.
Robichaud presented data Tuesday from the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an American weather monitoring and forecasting agency. The data indicates there could be between 14 and 21 named storms in the Atlantic Ocean this year. Of those, between six and 10 could develop into hurricanes, with three to six of those becoming major hurricanes.
He said there is a 90 per cent chance at least 14 named storms will form this year over the Atlantic Ocean.
Last year's hurricane season was also "very active," he said. Of the 21 named storms that formed, seven became hurricanes and four of those developed into major hurricanes. The latter included hurricane Larry, which made landfall along Newfoundland's southern coast as a Category 1 storm just before midnight on Sept. 10. Larry was the first Atlantic hurricane to hit Canadian shores in several years, he said.
In the United States, hurricane Ida formed over the Atlantic and made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 storm on Aug. 29, 2021, on the 16th anniversary of hurricane Katrina. Ida caused around 100 deaths and about $80 billion in damage, Robichaud said.
Last year's season is tied with several others for the third-highest number of named storms, he said, though he noted there are likely some years in the past that had storms strong enough to warrant names that weren't detected by the available technology of the time.
The current record sits at 30 named storms recorded in 2020, though Robichaud noted it's widely believed 1933 saw more than 30 such storms, though the technology didn't exist to track them.
To make their hurricane season predictions, experts consider variables like pressure patterns over Africa and water temperature, he said.
"The whole reason for existing for these storms is to take excess heat stored in the ocean and pump it into the atmosphere," he explained. "So if the water temperatures are warmer than average — especially this time of the year, where we know these water temperatures are just going to increase over the course of the later spring and summer — then we know the water is going to be warm enough to produce a higher-than-average number of storms."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.
The Canadian Press