By CLARE MELLOR Staff Reporter
Arlene, Bret, Cindy and Don — just a few of a long list of North Atlantic storms that could land on our doorstep this season.
A busy hurricane season is brewing in the North Atlantic with higher activity than usual, say officials at the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth.
On Thursday, the centre delivered its outlook for the hurricane season that runs from June 1 to late November. It is based on data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We’re not expecting quite as busy a year as last year,” said Chris Fogarty, program supervisor for the centre.
Nevertheless, complacency isn’t an option, he said, as even just one storm can leave devastation in its wake.
Experts are predicting three to six major hurricanes (Category 3 to 5), six to 10 hurricanes (Category 1 to 5) and 12 to 18 named storms.
Because the North Atlantic is so vast, it is impossible to say at this point how many storms could come near or hit Canadian land regions, or how severe they will be, Fogarty said.
In 2010, there were five major hurricanes in the North Atlantic — with hurricanes Earl and Igor affecting Canada — 12 hurricanes and 19 named storms.
Earl made landfall in Nova Scotia on Sept. 4 as a Category 1 hurricane causing high wind, significant waves and storm surges. On Sept. 21, Igor hit Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane causing between $150 million and $200 million in damage.
On average, one or two storms directly affect Canadian land regions each year, while another two or three typically affect offshore waters, said Fogarty.
In Eastern Canada, September is usually the stormiest month, while August and October are also very active.
Everyone should have an emergency plan and an emergency kit ready in case a severe storm strikes, says Andy Lathem, acting director of the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
“There is nothing wrong with being prepared and sometimes being overly prepared,” he said.
“It is not a matter of if but it’s a matter of when Nova Scotia will experience another hurricane and its devastating effects.”
Even unnamed storms that don’t reach hurricane status can cause extensive damage, Lathem said.
“I implore all Nova Scotians to take the time to get prepared. Where will you meet if you’re split up? How will you get out of your neighbourhood? Where is your emergency kit?”
Since about 1995, there has generally been higher than normal hurricane activity in the North Atlantic. Fogarty said there are several reasons why the same is expected this season.
Sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic are still at record warm levels. It also seems unlikely that El Nino conditions will develop.
El Nino is a warming of the tropical Pacific that produces wind patterns that thwart the development of tropical storms in the Atlantic.
(Original Source: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/1244277.html)