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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins: Five things you need to know

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Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Sunday, June 1, 2014, 8:10 PM -

And so it begins. June 1 marks the official start to the Atlantic Hurricane season, which runs until November 30. 

In their 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook released earlier this month, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted it would be a near-normal or below-normal hurricane season. That, however, does not mean none will develop. It only takes one to be truly memorable, and while forecasts change, it is still important to know what is ahead.

Below are five things you need to know about the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season.


RELATED: NOAA predicts somewhat subdued Atlantic hurricane season for 2014; developing El Nino to blame


(Credit: NOAA)

(Credit: NOAA)

1. Quiet Season Expected 

Federal forecasters predict it will be a somewhat quiet one compared to normal, with up to 13 named storms, between three and six of which will develop into hurricanes, and perhaps one or two of those reaching category 3 or higher (with wind speeds of 178 kilometres per hour or higher). There is no way to tell whether any of those potential storms will strike Canada's coastline during the six-month season that starts June 1.


PACIFIC: Amanda becomes the first hurricane of the season


2. El Nino 

The main reason for this more subdued forecast, according to the experts, is the El Nino that appears to be developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.


EL NINO: Canada braces for its impact


This weather pattern, which sees the Pacific trade winds diminish for months at a time, allowing warm waters near northeastern Australia to 'slosh back' towards northwestern South America, typically causes the opposite effect in the Atlantic trade winds. It's this increase in the Atlantic trade winds that's expected to give a more subdued season this year.

3. When does it get a name?

Forecasters name tropical storms when top winds reach 63 km/h; hurricanes have maximum winds of at least 119 km/h.

Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms had been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated through a strict procedure by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization

Interestingly, while each yearly list of names is reused every six years, a name can be replaced on a list if it was used for a storm that was particularly deadly, costly and generally devastating (e.g.: Katrina and Sandy). 

The first storm name on this season's list is Arthur.

4. Should I stay or should I go? 

That is often the question residents ask themselves during hurricane season.

A hypothetical storm surge flooding map of Southwest Florida (Credit: National Hurricane Center)

A hypothetical storm surge flooding map of Southwest Florida (Credit: National Hurricane Center)

This year, The National Hurricane Center is offering a way to help with that decision, introducing a colour-coded map that will show coastal residents how high water will rise and how far from the shoreline it will spread.


EXPERT ANALYSIS: Are extreme weather events actually increasing or are we just getting better at detecting them?


5. Hurricanes in Canada 

At least four tropical storms track through Canadian waters each year, with about one or two tracking over Canadian soil. (The storms that affect Canada may no longer be fully tropical by the time they get here.)

It is important to note that seasonal predictions of tropical activity are not landfall predictions. Whether or not Canada will have an active year depends just as much on storm tracks as it does overall Atlantic activity. In fact, there is very little correlation between the number of storms that form in the Atlantic and the number that make their way into Canadian waters. 

The bottom line for Canadians is that it only takes one storm to make a season memorable.

With files from Scott Sutherland and Dayna Vettese.

Remembering Hurricane Sandy: Tracking the storm
Experts predict 'quiet' 2014 hurricane season
Hurricane Amanda maintains Category 4 strength
Scientists locate dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico -- but it's smaller than anticipated

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