HALIFAX – A tropical storm moving up the United States east coast is expected to produce storm-force winds over the southern Grand Banks later this week, but will otherwise have little impact on Atlantic Canada.
Environment Canada meteorologist Darin Borgel said tropical storm Gert is expected to become a hurricane Tuesday.
“But it is not expected to have any direct impact on the Canadian land territory. At this time it’s expected to turn off to the northeast and track across the southern Grand Banks sometime on Thursday morning,” Borgel said Monday.
He said coastal parts of Atlantic Canada may see slightly higher than normal waves as the storm passes, but otherwise won’t see any impact from the storm.
Borgel said marine interests will need to keep an eye on the forecast.
“I expect anyone travelling those waters are already pretty aware of what’s going on. We are mentioning some gale storm force winds in our long range extended marine forecast,” he said.
He said Gert will remain 500 to 600 kilometres off the coast.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Gert was centred about 735 kilometres west-southwest of Bermuda Monday morning and had maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h. It was moving toward the north-northwest at 16 km/h.
A gradual turn toward the northeast with an increase in forward speed was forecast for the next 48 hours and Gert is expected to become a hurricane by Tuesday night.
Gert is the ninth storm since the tropical storm season started June 1, but the first to have any impact on Atlantic Canada.
Borgel says the peak of the season is usually in August and September when the waters of the North Atlantic are at their warmest.
Those warm water temperatures and a weak or non-existent El Nino are expected to contribute to an above-normal hurricane season this year.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 11 to 17 named storms this year, with five to nine expected to become hurricanes and two to four expected to become major in force.
An average of 35 to 40 per cent of storms that form in the Atlantic Basin actually make it into the Canadian Hurricane Centre’s response zone, meaning anywhere from four to six storms could affect Canada this year.
A strong El Nino — the warming of waters in the Pacific Ocean — can suppress hurricanes in the Atlantic.
Hurricane seasons tend to be quieter in years with a strong El Nino and more active in years with La Nina conditions — like in 2016.
Last year there were 15 named storms, seven of which reached hurricane status, with four of those reaching major hurricane status. A typical year has 12 storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.