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It's been an active few years for Hurricanes & Tropical Storms here in NL....

Chantal in 2007.
Bill in 2009.
Earl & Igor in 2010.
Maria & Ophelia in 2011.
Leslie in 2012.

Years ago, the perception was that we didn't really see too many Hurricanes and Tropical Storms here in Atlantic Canada and the ones that did move through, were just the weak remnants of the Storms. However the frequency of Tropical Storms in recent years, in addition to the huge events of Hurricane Juan in Halifax in 2003 and Hurricane Igor here in 2010, has everyone in Atlantic Canada taking note when these storms move in. 

Flood waters from Hurricane Igor ravage the community of Trouty. Courtesy: Kim Toope

The Canadian Hurricane Centre invited television Meteorologists and Weather Presenters from across Atlantic Canada to their head office in Dartmouth this past Monday, for a workshop. It was a great opportunity to see what they do and open the lines of communication with us Weathercasters.  


It's hard to believe that Canada didn't have a Hurricane Centre until the late 1980's. In 1985, Hurricane Gloria was called "The Storm of the Century" as it rolled up the Eastern Seaboard and towards the Maritimes. Reports from the U.S. said Gloria would be a "damaging" storm for the Canadian Maritimes, which put residents into a panic. Gloria was indeed a big storm for the Northeast United States, however weakened significantly as it moved into New Brunswick & Nova Scotia, bringing some gusty winds and a bit of rain. 

The less than expected impact, prompted Environment Canada to create the Canadian Hurricane Centre in 1986 and operations began in 1987. 26 years later, the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) is now the leader for all Meteorological matters when it comes to Tropical Storms and Hurricanes affecting Canada, led by Manager & Senior Research Meteorologist Chris Fogarty.


When Storms are brewing over the Tropical Atlantic, it's the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami which leads the way for prediction and forecasting in the Caribbean and the United States, however CHC is also monitoring the situation and keeping an eye. Once it becomes evident the Storm may roll up the Eastern Seaboard and into our region, the CHC is in constant contact with the NHC and also begins issuing Weather Statements for Canada, as early as 5 or 6 days ahead. 

CHC-ResponseZone.PNGAs the Storm rolls into the 'CHC Response Zone', the folks in Dartmouth remain in constant contact with the NHC in Miami and begin issuing their own forecasts, outlooks, briefings and discussions specific to Canada. They of course work in tandem with the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre as well as the Gander Weather Office, so that the most recent information is available for detailed local forecasts across Atlantic Canada. 

Another very important role that the CHC plays, is the relaying of information to Emergency Management Organizations across the region, including here in NL. Being ready and prepared for the wind & rain from these powerful Storms is critical. The goal here is to make sure that a Natural Hazard doesn't turn into a Natural Disaster. 


One area where the CHC has really started to lead the way in Tropical Storm/Hurricane expertise and research, is in Tropical to Post-Tropical Storm transition. When Storms roll into our neck of the woods, they change the way they function. No longer fueling themselves from the warm waters beneath, they instead begin to fuel themselves from temperature contrasts, the same way powerful Winter storms do. 

This transition phase is extremely complex, with so much is happening within the storm. In some cases, the Storm can actually STRENGTHEN by becoming Post-Tropical. Hurricane Igor is a good example of a Storm which transitioned to a Post-Tropical Storm while rolling up the Eastern Avalon. Leslie also transitioned to Post-Tropical while making landfall last year. 

Even though those Storms had become Post-Tropical, the CHC's policy is to maintain the Hurricane or Tropical Storm Warnings, given that the Storms were still Hurricane or Tropical Storm strength. However this has not been the case in the United States, until now. 

The transition of 'Super Storm Sandy' from Hurricane to Post-Tropical Storm last Fall was a game changer. Sandy actually strengthened during its transition as it made landfall along the Eastern Seaboard. However because the Storm had lost it's Tropical characteristics and become Post-Tropical, the NHC did not issue Hurricane & Tropical Storm Warnings. The NHC was criticized heavily for this and announced this Spring, that it too will now issue Hurricane or Tropical Storm Warnings, even if the storm has become Post-Tropical.



A few stats I thought you might be interested in....

-Climatology stats show that 1-2 storms per year, directly affect Atlantic Canada. 2-3 threaten our offshore waters.

-The Hurricane forecast cone you see on my broadcast at night, is sometimes misinterpreted as 'the area of impact.' The cone actually represents the forecasted probable track of the centre of storm. The further out in time you go, the larger the cone gets, to account for the possible change in track. Statistics show that Tropical Storms & Hurricanes remain within the cone forecast area about 67% of the time.

-The 1775 'Newfoundland Hurricane' ranks at #8 on the list of the deadliest Atlantic Hurricanes in history, killing more than 4000 people.

-I thought this was an interesting map to pass along as well. It shows the number of Tropical Storm or Hurricane crossings or hits across the Atlantic, in 2 degree by 2 degree 'blocks'. These numbers are from 1901 to 2000. 



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