Backgrounder: 2001 Canadian Hurricane Season
In 2001, tropical cyclones occurred in the North Atlantic between June 5 and December 4, making this the longest season since 1981. When considering Atlantic tropical cyclone data collected over the last century, evidence continues to mount suggesting an upswing in hurricane activity. The recent 10-year average of 11.8 named storms is the highest such average on record. As well, the recent 10-year averages of 6.9 hurricanes and 2.8 intense hurricanes are reminiscent of values not seen since the 1950s or 1960s.
Closer to home, the most recent 10-year average of 4.7 storms moving into Canadian Hurricane Centre's (CHC) Response Zone (within which the CHC issues special Hurricane Information Statements) has also not been seen since the 1960s. For the 3rd year in a row, 6 named storms moved into the Response Zone: 5 hurricanes and 1 tropical storm.
During a particularly busy 30-day stretch from late August to late September, four tropical systems moved through Atlantic Canada's offshore waters south of Newfoundland. In fact, all four systems (Dean, Erin, Gabrielle, and Humberto) passed through the Southwestern Grand Banks marine area. Despite the fact that none of the storms actually made landfall in Newfoundland, each of the four events delivered rainfalls in excess of 100 mm to Canada's easternmost province. The worst of the storms, Post-Tropical Storm Gabrielle, hammered the Avalon Peninsula with intense rainfalls, setting an all-time 6-hour rainfall record in St. John's (90 mm) and dumping 161 mm on Cape Race in about 10 hours. The Mayor of St. John's declared Gabrielle to be, "the worst storm in 100 years."
Tropical Storm Karen made landfall in Nova Scotia in mid October and afforded meterological forecasters and researchers (from Environment Canada and the National Research Council) the opportunity to fly a research aircraft into a storm undergoing transition from a tropical system to a more typical mid-latitude storm system. Neither Karen, nor late season Hurricane Noel (remained well south of Newfoundland) caused much concern.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre was established in 1986 after some public confusion and concern arose due to American media reports calling Hurricane Gloria 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.
For additional background information on the 2001 Canadian Hurricane season, please click here.