These are all the hurricanes that hit Canada since 1900

This year's hurricane season has wrought destruction on the Caribbean and the United States, but Canada has experienced almost nothing like its southern neighbours. Here's a look at hurricanes in Canada over the last century.

By the time they reach us, most hurricanes are weakened post-tropical storms

This year's hurricane seasons has wrought destruction on the Caribbean and the United States, but Canada has experienced almost nothing like its southern neighbours. 

The northern climate shields the country from the brunt of tropical storms.

But not always. Since 1850, Canada has been hit by 240 hurricanes, according to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That's about one or two per year, on average.

This may seem like a lot, but not if you consider that more than 2,100 Atlantic and Pacific storms were recorded since then.

The map below shows 163 storms that made landfall in Canada between 1900 and 2014.

There are the paths of 163 hurricanes that have passed over Canada between 1900 and 2014, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. (Earl Cabuhat/CBC)

Most of the hurricanes have one thing in common: by the time they reached Canadian soil they weren't really hurricanes.

"By the time that these hurricanes do impact Canada it's mostly a huge rainstorm and not much of a windstorm," Athena Masson, a meteorologist and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, told CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks

"So Canada will not really see Category 4, Category 5, or the wind speeds that we've seen with Hurricane Harvey as it came ashore."

The chart below shows the wind speeds of all the hurricanes that touched Canada since 1975.

(Darcy Hunter/CBC)

Most hurricanes that touch the Canadian landmass have been downgraded to post-tropical storms, meaning they are no longer driven by warm ocean temperatures, but rather by northern weather systems. Most make landfall with an average wind speed of 30 km/h (true hurricanes spin at 119 km/h or more).

But they can pick up speed again, according to Bob Robichaud of the Canadian Hurricane Centre. 

"Post-tropical storms have a clear distinction between rain and wind. Usually you'll have rain on the right side of the track, and wind on left side," Robichaud said.

In rare occurrences — every three or four years, Robichaud said — hurricanes maintain their tropical strength when they reach Canada.

Among the deadliest was Hurricane Hazel, in 1954. By the time it reached Canada had become an extratropical storm, but it still resulted in the death of 81 people, mostly in Toronto. 

Hurricane Juan in 2003 was the most destructive wind-heavy storm in recent history. It whipped through Halifax as a Category 2 hurricane with winds speeds reaching 160 km/h. It claimed eight lives, flattened forests, and caused more than $100 million in damages.

People navigate around down trees on Binney street in central Halifax in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan in 2003. (Reuters)

Then, in 2010, Hurricane Igor struck Newfoundland, but it was mostly a rainy event, albeit a deadly one. An 80-year-old man was killed after he was swept into a rain-swollen river.

"It put most of the island on the rainy side of storm. There was flooding, road washouts and a recovery that took weeks," he said.

Hurricane Irene in 2011 showed that rain-heavy storms can also wreak havoc inland, not just in the Maritimes. It slammed Quebec, flooding roads and downing power lines.

And if it seems from the chart above that hurricanes have been getting more frequent, they have, but only because we're in an active period of hurricane activity that started in 1995, according to Robichaud.

"These active periods last on average 20-30 years," he said.