This past weekend everyone was paying attention to Hurricane Gordon, now a tropical depression, as the storm made it's way across the east coast of the United States, bringing heavy rain and destruction in its path.
The storm even triggered a special weather statement in Canada and is responsible for the cold weather, rain and potential flooding plaguing Toronto this week. But Gordon isn't the only major storm circulating in the waters, in fact, according to Canadian meteorologists, this year has had way more hurricanes than expected.
Bob Robichaud is a meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, a branch of Environment Canada. According to Robichaud, this has been an above average year for hurricanes in Canada, meaning we have already surpassed the number of expected storms for the year and hurricane season isn't even over.
In fact, we are in the middle of the hurricane season in Canada is right now. The entire month of September is the peak month of the season, with September 10th specifically being the peak day. Robichaud says it's been a busy season.
This year the Canadian Hurricane Centre made predictions that there would be 9-13 named storms (meaning storms with winds over 63 km/hour), 4-7 hurricanes, and 2-3 major hurricanes. According to Robichaud, those marks have all already been met.
Only halfway into hurricane season, there have been nine named storms, five hurricanes, and already two major storms coming from the Atlantic Ocean. While not all of the storms make landfall or have a devastating impact in Canada, one system, Hurricane Chris, hit eastern Canada in July.
Chris is here lol and Clarenville is getting dumped on. pic.twitter.com/05z6XGzfBI— Soibhan Stringer (@soibhan) 12 July 2018
Landing in Newfoundland as a post-tropical storm, Chris had strengthened to a hurricane with winds nearing 135 km/hour as it moved up the US coast at the beginning of the summer. The storm didn't make landfall in any of the states, but as it moved North and the winds died down a bit, Chris hit the south-eastern shores of Newfoundland.
The storm hit the province hard. Downpours of rain pelted the area, with 80 mm of it falling on Gander, and wind gusts at 100 km/hour were recorded in places like Bonavista. Meanwhile, the Avalon Peninsula, where the capital St. John's is, experienced waves as big as eight meters in some areas. And by then, Chris wasn't even considered a tropical storm anymore.
There's a new storm putting meteorologists on the edge of their seats now though. Robichaud said the main one they've been keeping an eye on is Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm gaining strength in the Atlantic right now. While this storm isn't expected to hit Canada, the east coast of the US could be in for some major devastation.
Florence's classification as a Category 4 storm means she is capable of causing catastrophic devastation. Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 storm that destroyed the east coast and led to hundreds of deaths, was only a Category 3. And while Florence isn't slated to make landfall in Canada, it is forecast to hit North and South Carolina, Bermuda, and the Bahamas, all popular tourist destinations for Canadians.
Canada has experienced some brutal storms over the years, with one of the worst being Hurricane Hazel in 1954. The storm ripped through the US and then Canada, hitting the Toronto area especially hard. Winds at almost 125 km/hour ripped apart buildings while rains flooded rivers and the city. 81 people died and over 2000 families were left homeless.
Though Hurricane Hazel is long behind us, it is worth remembering the devastation storms have caused Canada and that this year has seen more major storms than expected and Robichaud knows why. According to the meteorologist, the ocean is warmer than it normal due to the water absorbing greenhouse gases. The warm water is what forms hurricanes, so with the oceans being warmer everywhere, we are seeing even more storms.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre is a government agency that tracks storms and warns Canadians about any risks to their safety or storms making landfall. The centre is headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.