Im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict if an­other Igor will land this hur­ri­cane sea­son

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY STEVE BARTLETT

There is no way to pre­dict whether or not a storm as pow­er­ful as hur­ri­cane Igor will pound New­found­land this year.

“ It’s im­pos­si­ble to say,” Bob Ro­bichaud of the Cana­dian Hur­ri­cane Cen­tre in Hal­i­fax said re­cently.

The At­lantic hur­ri­cane sea­son runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but ac­cord­ing to Ro­bichaud, picks up in Au­gust and peaks in Septem­ber.

Peo­ple in east­ern New­found­land are quite fa­mil­iar with that trend, es­pe­cially af­ter Igor ripped through the re­gion last Sept. 21.

The hur­ri­cane swept a Ran­dom Is­land man out to sea, washed out roads, top­pled trees and flooded homes.

Ro­bichaud ex­pects Igor is now the bench­mark, and he knows peo­ple won­der if a storm as pow­er­ful is on the way.

“There will be peo­ple that are ner­vous be­cause of what they went through last year,” he said.

“I ex­pect we’ll see that for the next few years.”

While he’s con­fi­dent in that pre­dic­tion, fore­cast­ing an­other Igor is a dif­fer­ent story.

Ro­bichaud said that level of pre­dictabil­ity is not there yet.

Hur­ri­cane fore­cast­ing is done by the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion in the United States.

Ac­cord­ing to Ro­bichaud, that or­ga­ni­za­tion is ex­pect­ing be­tween 12 and 18 named storms this sea­son.

Six to 10 of those are pre­dicted to be­come hur­ri­canes, with three to six reach­ing in­tense sta­tus.

Three storms have ob­tained trop­i­cal storm des­ig­na­tion thus far — Ar­lene, Brett and Cindy.

Ro­bichaud pointed out the fore­cast is for the level of ac­tiv­ity in the en­tire ocean basin, that you can never say ex­actly where or if a storm will reach land.

Where a hur­ri­cane or trop­i­cal storm goes, de­pends on the weather that day, he ex­plained.

That’s what hap­pened with Igor. It was a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane that joined forces with a trough of low pres­sure, re­sult­ing in the heavy rain­fall.

While he can’t say if there’ll be an­other Igor in 2011, Ro­bichaud ex­pects one or two trop­i­cal or post­trop­i­cal storm will make land­fall in At­lantic Canada.

An­other two or three will pass through the re­gion’s marine waters.

He said that is typ­i­cally what’s hap­pened over the past 50 years.

“Usu­ally, there is some­thing. Very rarely is there ab­so­lutely noth­ing.”

While some feel the prov­ince is be­ing hit with hur­ri­canes more fre­quently than in the past, Ro­bichaud said that’s not the case.

He ex­plained there’s been an in­crease in the level of ac­tiv­ity in the At­lantic Ocean since 1995, but his­tor­i­cally, such in­creases are cycli­cal and lasts 20 to 30 years.

He ex­pects the next few years will be ac­tive as well, un­less hur­ri­cane for­ma­tion is in­hib­ited by an El Nino, a warm ocean cur­rent that de­vel­ops in the Pa­cific.

A pickup truck splashes through the wa­ter flow­ing over Val­ley Road in Car­bon­ear dur­ing hur­ri­cane Igor in Septem­ber 2010.

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