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By 2005, atmospheric scientists were in universal agreement that the Atlantic basin had returned to an extended period of heightened hurricane activity, as evidenced by the preceding decade reporting the highest frequency of tropical cyclones of any decade on record. While extensive climatologies of hurricanes and tropical storms existed for the entire Atlantic or sub-basins (such as near the Caribbean or United States east coast), few statistics had been developed for the Canadian threat of tropical cyclones.

At the time that this climatology was being prepared in May 2003, Rebecca Hanson was publishing her undergraduate thesis, Actual Versus Perceived Risk Due to Hurricanes in Nova Scotia (Department of Geography, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia). Two notable conclusions were drawn by Ms. Hanson. First, although “people who had experienced a hurricane cited that impact due to hurricanes was highly likely, they also felt that damage due to hurricanes was only somewhat likely.” Second, “in the event of a major landfalling hurricane, a major concern to emergency measures organizers evidenced in the survey results was the participants’ low awareness of preparedness measures constructed by federal, provincial, and local governments.”

These words seemed prophetic when, five months later on September 29, the poor response of a mostly unprepared public was witnessed during the landfall of Hurricane Juan, the worst hurricane in modern history for Halifax and much of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The apparent upswing in Atlantic hurricane activity, compounded by a Canadian public who was, as a whole, poorly educated on the impacts of hurricanes, constituted the key ingredients for a natural hazard to become a natural disaster. Clearly, a much greater awareness was required to keep Canadians and their property safe.

This project addresses the knowledge-deficiency through the compilation of an extensive 20th century climatology of tropical cyclones and their threats to Canada.

The climatology project team includes:

  • Peter Bowyer – project manager; overall editor and content manager; various meteorological and anecdotal data gathering and analysis
  • Jonathan Button – newspaper and storm track summaries 1900-2004; shipwreck database
  • Meghan Campbell – wind and rainfall data mining
  • Rich Cianflone – meteorological consultant and analyst for all detailed wind and rainfall analyses
  • Craig Clarke – meteorological summary information: 1995-2001
  • Justin Cochrane – website design and development
  • Alex Donaldson – wind and rainfall data mining; meteorological statistical analysis
  • Rebecca Hanson – Hurricane Hazel research; newspaper and storm track summaries 1900-2002; overall newspaper summary editing
  • Ian Hickey – Canadian Hurricane Centre webmaster
  • Lorne Ketch – storm summary tables and frequency maps for all geographical regions and forecast areas; consultant on impacts data
  • Jill Maepea – newspaper and storm track summaries 1900-2003; shipwreck database
  • Cara Nickerson – newspaper and storm track summaries 1900-2002
  • George Parkes – storm surge data mining and analysis
  • Roberta Perkins – storm surge data mining and analysis; meteorological summary information: 1979-2008
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