Hurricanes and Their Effect on the North — Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Hurricanes and Their Effect on the North

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is only technically half over but likely to exceed the most costly in history. The records for both the most damage in a single season and the most hurricanes presently belong to 2005 the year of Katrina and 30 other hurricanes. It is not likely that this season will get as far as epsilon in the Greek alphabet, but do not be surprised that alpha (and beta) makes it into record books.

Considerable distance from warm ocean waters provides an effective barrier from hurricane damage for Ontario, with rare exceptions. Wind damage generally declines rapidly as hurricanes move inland. Rain amounts also decline but, again rarely, late season hurricanes can combine mid-latitude features like cold fronts and relatively warm waters in the Great Lakes.

The most notorious example was in November,1954. Hurricane Hazel tracked though the Caribbean, over Haiti, made landfall in North Carolina and then due north. Hazel combined with an already powerful storm and then swept over western Toronto. Massive flood damage, including an entire street swept down a river left 81 dead, 1900 families homeless, and caused in damages estimated at over $1 billion in 2017 dollars. Regulations since Hurricane Hazel have restricted new development in flood plains, established conservation authorities and reduced risk to people and property in flood situations.

Ontario is likely to be sheltered from most direct hurricane hits in the future but is slow to prepare for the new weather order with 100-year floods at least once a decade and occasional 500-year storms.
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One of the oddities of this season is that it has the list of names from 2005. Arlene Bret Cindy Don Emily Franklin Gert Harvey Irma Jose Katia were minor events but the final four will almost certainly be removed from the list now.
To my knowledge I am the first to suggest the Greek alphabet is a possibility this year.

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