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Early predictions see a quiet tropical storm season

Hurricane Sandy. Image credit: NOAA

Hurricane Sandy. Image credit: NOAA

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, April 12, 2015, 12:02 PM - You might have seen this making the rounds late last week: Some researchers in the United States are predicting a relatively mild hurricane season.

That's the official take of Colorado State University scientists, who forecast a grand total of seven total named tropical storms.

Of those, only three are forecast to reach full-fledged hurricane season, and only one of those are likely to hit Category 3 status or higher.

That's tamer than last season, and well below the historical average of 12 named storms per hurricane season, which in the North Atlantic runs "officially" from June 1 to November 30.

"We anticipate a below-average Atlantic basin hurricane season due to the combination of a high likelihood of at least a moderate El Niño event and a relatively cool tropical Atlantic," Philip Klotzbach and William Gray of the university write in their report.

Although the big headline-making storms are usually in the United States and the Caribbean, Canada has had its share of hurricane disasters.

Hurricane Juan, for example, made a direct hit on Nova Scotia in 2003 as a Category 2 storm. It brought widespread coastal devastation, did $300 million in damage and is responsible for eight deaths. 

Looking further back, 1954's Hurricane Hazel had its origins in the Caribbean but eventually impacted southern Ontario, where 81 people died. In 1959, a hurricane all but wiped out the fishing fleet in the New Brunswick community of Escuminac, with 35 fatalities.

And reaching back even further, the storms of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century killed hundreds of people at a time, and a 1770s storm off Newfoundland claimed a staggering 4,000 lives -- Canada's single deadliest natural disaster.

As for this latest prediction, although it's an early peak ahead, forecaster's eyes will be on the U.S. National Hurricane Centre, which typically releases its own prediction in May.

SOURCE: Colorado State University | NPR | National Hurricane Centre

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