The Canadian Hurricane Centre says residents in Eastern Canada can expect an average or below-average level of hurricane activity this year.

Hurricane season runs from June to November, but the centre's director says tropical storms have been known to form in the North Atlantic in May.

Chris Fogarty says the El Nino effect typically suppresses the formation of tropical storms.

However, Fogarty says that regardless of the seasonal forecast, Canadians should prepare for heavy weather.

He says one or two tropical storms typically affect the Canadian land mass every year, regardless of the level of hurricane activity over the ocean.

In 2013, the centre forecast a big hurricane season, with up to 11 hurricanes, including six major hurricanes. In the event, it was a particularly light season. Only two tropical storms — Andrea in June and Gabrielle in September — prompted the hurricane centre to issue bulletins.

Mirrors U.S. forecast

The forecast in Canada mirrors what U.S. federal forecasters said Thursday as they expect it to be a slower-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season, also citing an expected El Nino.

The El Nino, which warms part of the Pacific every few years and changes rain and temperature patterns around the world, will likely reduce the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in New York City.

Officials in the United States expect about eight to 13 named tropical storms and three to six hurricanes. Just one or two major hurricanes with winds over 177 kilometres an hour are forecast.

Forecasters in the U.S. also got it wrong last year when they predicted an unusually busy hurricane season. There were just 13 named storms and two hurricanes, Umberto and Ingrid, both of which were Category 1, the lowest on the scale that measures hurricanes by wind speed. There were no major hurricanes.

In 2012, storm surge was devastating to the New York area when Superstorm Sandy slammed the East coast, killing 147 people and causing US$50 billion in damage. Sandy lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.