The Atlantic Hurricane season is now underway, and forecasters believe this could be an active one.
“It looks like in the 2011 season what we have going on is a state of not El Nino, not La Nina, but they're in a neutral phase, so that still indicates the potential for more storms in the Atlantic ocean,” says Chris Fogarty of the Canadian Hurricane Centre. “And the water temperatures in the Atlantic ocean are running above normal this year, so those two primary factors spelling for an active year.”
Fogarty adds that an active hurricane season has been the trend for the past 15 years.
“These active periods can last up to 20 years. So we could be in for another 5 years of active hurricane activity.”
Last month, NOAA predicted there would be more than the average 11 named storms. The Canadian Hurricane Centre agrees.
“It looks like about 15 named storms, eight of those being hurricanes, and four or five major storms,” explains Fogarty.
Last year, the United States escaped the worst of the hurricane season, thanks to winds that steered most storms away from the coastline.
The same, however, can't be said for eastern Canada. Hurricane Igor roared across Newfoundland in September of 2010, causing extensive damage to several communities. Earlier that month, Hurricane Earl caused damage in the Maritimes.
While it's still too early to say how many storms will impact Canada this year, Fogarty says an area of high pressure between Nova Scotia and Florida could give forecasters a better idea.
“With that area of pressure being below normal at least early in the season it allows more storms to track up towards eastern Canada as opposed to a large high pressure area that would drive those storms into the Gulf Coast of Florida.”
Mexico's hurricane experts are also predicting an above-average year for storm formations in the Pacific Ocean in 2011.
With files from Andrea Stockton