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History of the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC)

Creation and evolution of the CHC

  • September 25-28, 1985 – Hurricane Gloria affected the Maritime provinces. Canadians had to rely largely on U.S. forecasts concerning this intense storm. When the storm's effects on Canada were much less than predicted, there was considerable confusion in the media and the general public. This eventually lead to the creation of the CHC.
  • 1986 – A study on tropical cyclones in Canada was commissioned to determine the need for a Canadian hurricane centre. The study, “30-year Climatology of Tropical Cyclones in Atlantic Canada,”was published by Barks and Richards.
  • August 31, 1987 – Environment Canada established hurricane centres on each coast: at the then Maritimes Weather Centre (Bedford, N.S.), and at the then Pacific Weather Centre (Vancouver, B.C.).
  • 2000 – The Canadian Hurricane Centre was established in Dartmouth, N.S., to serve all of Canada.

Notable dates at the CHC

1986

  • 1986-1989 - Regional Director of the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) Atlantic Region (Bill Appleby), joins the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee (responsible for the western North Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and eastern North Pacific)

1987

1989

  • First Environment Canada meteorologist (Jim Abraham) attends the WMO-NHC Hurricane course
  • Tropical Storm Hugo hits Ontario; this storm marks the first time Doppler images of a tropical cyclone are captured over Canada

1991

  • Maritimes Weather Centre appoints its first hurricane meteorologist who focuses on hurricanes (Steve Miller)
  • First hurricane-forecasting training delivered in Canada by a U.S. National Hurricane Centre specialist (Hal Gerrish)
  • First hurricane workshop delivered in Canada by a Canadian (CHC manager Jim Abraham delivers presentation in Montreal to the Canadian Meteorological Centre)
  • First presentation by CHC (Steve Miller) at an International Conference (WMO Conference on Tropical-Extratropical Interaction at Reading, England)

1993

  • First CHC member (Jim Abraham) attends the annual International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones (IWTC-III, Mexico)

1994

  • Development and implementation of hurricane workstation software that prepares tracks and bulletins (Al MacAfee)

1996

  • First annual report of the Canadian hurricane season for the WMO (reports in CHC archive)

1997

  • CHC Parametric Wind-Model developed (Al MacAfee)
  • CHC participates in every AMS Hurricane Conference (bi-annually starting in 2000); WMO International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones (every 4 years);WMO International Workshop on Extratropical Transition (3 to date – one hosted by the CHC)

1998

  • CHC website launched (CHC manager Martha McCullough)
  • CHC relocated from Bedford, N.S., to Dartmouth, N.S. (45 Alderney Dr., 19th floor)

1999

  • First program manager appointed (Peter Bowyer) for the CHC (title changed to program supervisor in 2007)

2000

  • Storm resonant waves (trapped-fetch) model developed (Al MacAfee). AMS Journal papers on the theory and modelling of trapped-fetch waves subsequently published in 2005 by Peter Bowyer and Al MacAfee
  • CHC Program Manager delivers extensive tropical cyclone training in eastern Canada
  • First Canadian flights into a tropical cyclone (Hurricane Michael) with National Research Council’s Convair 580 (dropsonde data images)

2001

  • Hurricane information statements to include technical discussion
  • Technical prognostic messages terminated
  • Canadian flights into Tropical Storm Karen
  • Jim Abraham (former CHC manager) received CMOS Patterson Medal*

2003

  • Canadian flights into Tropical Storm Isabel (first-ever inland tropical cyclone flights)
  • Hurricane Juan devastates N.S. and P.E.I. (especially Halifax)
  • Canadian flights into Hurricane Juan (dropsonde data images)
  • CHC hosts second International Workshop on Extratropical Transition

2004

  • Tropical cyclone watches and warnings introduced
  • CHC co-produces permanent hurricane display located at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
  • CHC establishes Hurricane Hazel commemorative website marking the 50th anniversary of this storm
  • CHC helps produce and edit two Discovery Channel documentaries (Hurricane Juan, Extratropical Transition) and a Hurricane Hazel documentary (with Toronto & Region Conservation)
  • Program Manager appointed to AMS International Hurricane Committee
  • Peter Bowyer, CHC Program Supervisor, awarded CMOS Andrew Thompson Prize for Applied Meteorology*

2005

  • CHC participates in NOAA research flights into Hurricane Ophelia
  • CHC relocates from 19th floor to 3rd floor (follow-up mitigation from lessons learned during Hurricane Juan, 2003)
  • Published on CD: “Climatology of Hurricanes for Canada: Increasing Our Awareness of the Threat”

2006

  • Full hurricane model developed by Chris Fogarty (vortex insertion in CMC GRIB fields)

2009

  • Published on Web: “Climatology of Hurricanes for Canada: Increasing Our Awareness of the Threat”
  • New CHC website launched

*These awards, which acknowledge outstanding contributions to Canadian meteorology, were mostly given for work done in conjunction with the CHC.

Bulletin-header changes at the CHC
DateInformation Statements(Technical) Prognostic MessagesTropical Storm & Hurricane WatchesTropical Storm & Hurricane Warnings
1987WPCN3 – Issued by Environment CanadaFXCN5 – Issued by Environment Canada  
Sept. 1989WPCN3 – Issued by the Eastern Canadian Hurricane Centre of Environment CanadaFXCN5 – Issued by the Eastern Canadian Hurricane Centre of Environment Canada  
1995WPCN3 changed to WPCN03FXCN5 changed to FXCN05  
1996WPCN03 changed to WTCN31-39   
2000Distinction of Eastern/Western dropped from title of Centre-- now known simply as Canadian Hurricane CentreDistinction of Eastern/Western dropped from title of Centre--now known simply as Canadian Hurricane Centre  
2001Information statement made more comprehensive to include technical informationBulletin discontinued  
2004WTCN31-39 changed to WOCN31-39 WWCN31-39 introducedWTCN31-39 introduced
2009Hurricane information statements” changed to “Tropical Cyclone iInformation statements”