What is the Canadian Hurricane Centre?
Overlooking Halifax Harbour from Queen Square in downtown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) is part of the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre (ASPC), a division of the Meteorological Service of Canada - Atlantic Region. The CHC exists to advise Canadians on the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms. The Centre also serves to provide guidance to weather centres in all regions potentially affected by one of these storms.
Why Does Canada Need a Hurricane Centre?
On average, three to four tropical storms or hurricanes pose a threat to Canada or its territorial waters each year. In 1985, an intense hurricane Gloria was forecast to move along the eastern seaboard of North America. The Director of the U.S. National Hurricane Centre declared Gloria to be the "Storm of the Century!" Canadians, relying on American forecasts and media for information on this storm, were very concerned that it would be a repeat of 1954’s Hurricane Hazel... Canada’s most remembered hurricane. While Gloria did give heavy rain and strong winds to the western part of the Maritime provinces, it was not the storm many had feared.
As a result of the confusion arising from the situation with Gloria, Environment Canada decided to establish its own Hurricane Centre in metropolitan Halifax / Dartmouth: the most populated area in Atlantic Canada.
The National Hurricane Centres in Miami and Dartmouth routinely consult each other to coordinate the tracks and positions of all storms that pose a threat to Canada.
Who Works at the Canadian Hurricane Centre?
Weather forecasts, advisories and warnings are something that most Canadians take for granted. But forecasts are prepared by operational meteorologists who work around the clock, 365 days a year. The official bulletins that advise Canadians about hurricanes are prepared by the real men and women who work these strange hours.
The more experienced meteorologists of the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre staff the Canadian Hurricane Centre when a tropical storm or hurricane is expected to pose a threat to Canada. These individuals have received specialized training in tropical meteorology and hurricane forecasting from the U.S. National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida. This knowledge, combined with their underlying expertise in mid-latitude weather forecasting, has equipped the CHC staff with a unique skill-set for predicting "Canadian-style" tropical cyclones. In addition to those that forecast the weather are those that provide the technological expertise to keep the CHC operation state-of-the-art and functioning. The meteorologists of the CHC contribute to international publications, conferences and workshops on tropical cyclones. As well, the Regional Director of the Meteorological Service of Canada - Atlantic Region is a member of the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee.