Don't be shocked by another Igor: geographer
Newfoundland communities still cleaning up after Hurricane Igor should not be shocked to see another storm of similar devastation land in future years, a scientist has warned.
Norm Catto, a Memorial University geography professor, told delegates to a Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador convention in St. John's that climate change may alter the frequency of storms.
"It's not that we're seeing new things happening," Catto said.
"What we're seeing perhaps are more of them, or more dramatic, or of a broader area, but they're the same sort of things that have happened in the past," he said Thursday.
"We expect to see an increased number of drier and hotter periods, especially during the summers, obviously, [as well as] more intense precipitation events [and] changes in the amount of storm activity."
Igor ripped across eastern Newfoundland on Sept. 21, washing out scores of roads, knocking out several bridges and flooding dozens of towns.
Environment Canada later said Igor, a Category 1 hurricane that dropped as much as 239 millimetres of rain and had peak winds of 172 km/h, was a storm with a ferocity not seen in the region in decades.
Catto said governments can nonetheless prepare for damages caused by storms of similar strength.
He noted that Igor brought the same amounts of precipitation to parts of Placentia Bay and Conception Bay as 2007's tropical storm Chantal, which caused significant damage to regional roads and highways.
"We do have good coping strategies here," he said.
"The infrastructure that was put in after Chantal did the job, in terms of reducing damage from Igor," said Catto.
Similar infrastructure upgrades — including massive storm sewer pipes — that were placed in St. John's after tropical storm Gabrielle in 2001 were also effective during Igor, Catto said.