The Atlantic hurricane season is poised to deliver another round of above-normal storms for the seventh consecutive year, according to both Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The two weather forecasters released their predictions on Tuesday, estimating that 14 to 21 named storms and three to six major hurricanes will develop during the June 1 to Nov. 30 season. A major hurricane packs winds of at least 178 km/h and can cause devastating damage.
“On average, [Canada gets] about four or five storms every year of those storms that form in the Atlantic that find their way into our response zone. That accounts for 30 to 40 per cent,” Bob Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said in press conference on Tuesday.
“So if we apply this to the prediction for this year, we should have a fairly similar season that we’ve had the last couple of years here in Canada.”
Climate change is warming ocean temperatures that have led to more destructive and damaging storms, forecasters say. NOAA’s call for an above-average storm season follows another by Colorado State University, which last month predicted 19 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes.
An average season generates 14 named storms and seven hurricanes, figures that increased last year after a recalculation. NOAA cited improved satellite monitoring and climate change in raising the numbers for a normal year.
Last year’s 21 named Atlantic storms cost about $80.6 billion US in insured damages with Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 hurricane when it struck Louisiana and which brought winds and flooding all the way to New York. It led to about $36 billion US in losses.
The NOAA forecast calls for six to 10 hurricanes in total. A tropical storm brings sustained winds of at least 63 km/h while hurricanes have winds of at least 119 km/h.
Forecasters say unseasonably high temperatures, warmer than average seas that provide energy for tropical cyclones and the absence of an El Nino weather pattern are indicators of an active storm season.