HALIFAX - Balmy water temperatures in the North Atlantic could fuel another active hurricane season, the Canadian Hurricane Centre warned Thursday.
Chris Fogarty, a forecaster with the centre, said sea surface temperatures remain at record warm levels, increasing the chance of powerful storms reaching Eastern Canada.
He said it's also unlikely the Pacific Ocean will be warm enough to create an El Nino — an effect that produces winds capable of preventing tropical storms from forming in the Atlantic.
"It seems unlikely that El Nino will develop ... we still have the very warm water temperature to contend with in the Atlantic," said Fogarty at a 2011 storm season briefing.
"That is indicative of a generally more active season than normal, so we cannot let our guard down."
Fogarty said forecasters are also keeping their eye on an area of high pressure that could steer storms toward Atlantic Canada.
U.S. forecasters are predicting 12 to 18 named storms this year, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes — which are those packing winds of 176 kilometres per hour or more.
The Canadian Hurricane Centre doesn't issue long range forecasts.
"However, we do pay attention to ocean temperatures and the area of high pressure that's between Florida and Nova Scotia," he said.
Atlantic Canada was pounded by two devastating storms last year.
Hurricane Earl tracked right over Nova Scotia, bringing heavy rain and destructive winds throughout the Maritimes. One man who tried to save a boat from being damaged during the storm drowned west of Halifax.
Igor reached Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane with wind gusts of 140 km/h and 200 millimetres of rain, causing one fatality and almost $200 million in damage.
The World Meteorological Organization has since removed Igor from its list of storm names. It is the second time Environment Canada has requested such a move, coming after the removal of Juan nearly a decade ago.
In September 2003, Hurricane Juan roared over the Halifax area and through Prince Edward Island, causing $100 million in damage. It was blamed for at least eight deaths and was the worst storm to hit Halifax in more than 100 years.
Hurricane season generally runs from June 1 to the end of November.
The first three storms, should they develop, will carry the names Arlene, Brett and Cindy.
Andy Lathem, a spokesman for Nova Scotia's Emergency Management Office, said they count on early forecasts to do emergency storm planning.
"We not only benefit from their long range predictions but we also get detailed heads up information about potential storms," he said.
"We don't really mind if a hurricane decides to give Nova Scotia a wide berth, but we want to be ready for it anyway."
Forecasters warn of active hurricane season due to record warm water in Atlantic - Yahoo! News