By: Luke Jones, Published on June 11, 2018 03:53 PM, Last Update on June 11, 2018 12:56 PM
Are hurricanes happening more frequently or can we simply detect them better or report on them more frequently? Bob Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) suggests that forecasting may be the reason there seems to be more storm activity.
Robichaud was speaking during a webinar on the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) 2018 hurricane season forecast. Each year the ICLR details what we can expect to happen during hurricane season. During the webinar, Robichaud answered a question by ICLR research coordinator Sophie Guilbault, who wanted to know if severe storms are more frequent than they used to be.
“It is more difficult to differentiate between, ‘Are we getting more storms, or are we just getting better at detecting them?’” Robichaud replied.
He pointed out equipment used to detect hurricanes has drastically improved in the last decade, suggesting the two are “almost not comparable”. Robichaud continued “so the fact that we are detecting more storms doesn’t mean there are actually more storms out there.”
“Are we going to get better predictions?” he asked. “At some point, we are going to reach a certain limit. We are never going to be able to predict these tracks 100%. We are certainly getting better every year. Sometimes we get a lot better; sometimes the difference is very small, but it’s continually improving.”
He believes hurricane season this year will be around average in terms of storm frequency. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an estimated 10-16 name storms will occur in 2018. The average named storm season has 12 storms. The adminsitraction says five to nine of the storms will be hurricanes, compared to the average of six, and one to four will be major hurricanes, with the average at two.
“Very often, when the storms reach Canada, we have a very distinct pattern, with the heaviest rain on the left hand side of the storm…while the strongest winds are on the right hand side,” Robichaud noted.