From left to right, Hurricanes Katia, Irma, Jose, 08 Sept 2017 (Earth Wind Map)
The Canadian Hurricane Centre is forecasting 10 to 16 named storms with five to nine becoming hurricanes this year.
One to four hurricanes is likely to be major with sustained winds of at least 178 km/h.
But 2018 is not expected to be as busy as 2017 which had 17 named storms with 10 hurricanes including a trio of destructive cyclones – Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Three storms made it into Canada’s response zone but none made landfall.
Although the season doesn’t officially start until June 1st, a subtropical storm named Alberto has already formed off the Yucatan Peninsula and will churn north across the Gulf of Mexico this weekend toward the U.S Gulf Coast.
The parade of hurricanes in the Atlantic continues with Maria making landfall late tonight over the eastern Caribbean island nation of Dominica as a powerful category 5 storm packing sustained winds of 260 km/h.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center is outlying a path for Maria which is eerily similar to the recent Hurricane Irma with the U.S and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico expected to be impacted on Wednesday.
Maria will be accompanied by a dangerous storm surge and between 300-500 mm (12-20 inches) of rain to some of the islands causing life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Meantime, Hurricane Jose is still churning northward as a category 1 storm with heavy surf and rip currents along the U.S East Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
Canadian forecasters say the remnants of Jose have already brought high humidity to the Maritimes and will give Nova Scotia persistent moisture and cloud cover as well as rough surf along the Atlantic coast.
Flooding in the Prairies (Lyndon Tucker photo)
Environment Canada has released its annual list of top ten weather stories of the year:
1. Prairie flooding – Historic spring floods in Manitoba and Saskatchewan turn into historic summer floods.
2. Alberta burning – Forest fires destroy one-third of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta in May.
3. Richelieu flooding – Quebec’s Richelieu Valley floods after heavy snowpack melts in Northeastern U.S.
4. Farming challenges – From coast to coast, wet fields cause problems throughout the growing season.
5. Ontario twisters – An F3 tornado (with winds up to 320 km/h) ravages SW town of Goderich.
6. Busy Atlantic hurricanes – Irene, Katia, Maria and Ophelia did the most damage of the season in Atlantic Canada.
7. Bummer Summer – Either too hot in Central Canada or too wet and cool on both the East and West Coasts.
8. Arctic ice shrinking – Sea ice in the Arctic reaches an all-time minimum in September since records began 50 years ago.
9. Groundhog Day Storm – Blizzard shuts down travel for days in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
10. Windy Alberta – Strong winds in November (peak gust of 204 km/h) blow trucks off highways and shatter office towers in Calgary.
Hurricane Maria over North Atlantic, 16 Sept 2011 (NASA)
Hurricane Maria (Category 1) made landfall this afternoon along Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula near Argentia.
Top winds were clocked at 103 km/h which is no breeze in the park but it was much less than projected from Environment Canada.
As Maria raced across the Avalon toward St. John’s, she was downgraded to a tropical storm bringing heavy rains and high winds to the Newfoundland capital.
No major power outages and little damage from the storm were reported.