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Canadian Tropical Cyclone Season Summary for 2002

Prepared by: Peter Bowyer

Three tropical cyclones entered the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) Response Zone (RZ) during the 2002 season; this is almost half of the previous 7-year average of 5.7.

2002 Storm Tracks Image
2002 Storm Tracks Image

In addition to the three named storms were three systems which became extratropical prior to entering the RZ. A small unnamed tropical-storm-like system in July moved quickly through waters south of Nova Scotia.

For the third consecutive year, a tropical cyclone made landfall in Atlantic Canada. Hurricane Gustav, which came ashore in Nova Scotia at 1:30 a.m. ADT, September 12, is the first Canadian landfalling hurricane (in transition to extratropical) captured on Doppler radar. (Note: The last landfalling hurricane in Canada was Michael in 2000, and the last landfalling hurricane in Nova Scotia was Hortense in 1996).

The CHC issued 68 bulletins during 2001 (not including corrections).

Bulletin Summaries for 1996-2002
Bulletin Summaries20022001200019991998199719961995
Hurricane Information Statements
Number of Storms Represented by these Bulletins


Arthur (July 14–16)

Tropical Storm Arthur entered the Laurentian Fan and Southwestern Grand Banks marine forecast areas on July 16 (maximum winds 50 knots or 93 km/h) and tracked through the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland on July 17 as a post-tropical cyclone (maximum winds 45 knots or 83 km/h). Rainfall amounts were not significant. The CHC issued 15 bulletins.

Gustav (September 8–12)

Gustav was upgraded from a tropical storm to the Atlantic’s first hurricane of the season at 11:50 a.m. ADT on September 11, only hours before moving into southwestern Maritime waters. On September 12, Gustav made landfall along the southern coast of Cape Breton, N.S. (near St. Esprit Island) at 1:30 a.m. ADT. Reports of heavy rain, high winds, and minor flooding from storm surge were received from around Atlantic Canada in the wake of the storm. Gustav was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone as it exited Nova Scotia and entered Newfoundland on September 12 shortly before 6:30 a.m. NDT . The CHC issued 18 bulletins.

The highest recorded rainfall was 102 mm in Ashdale, N.S. (all Nova Scotia sites received at least 50 mm). Highest reported wind speeds were 122 km/h from both St. Paul Island and Sable Island, N.S. Storm surges throughout the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence coincided (within a few hours) of a run of high astronomical tides, resulting in localized coastal flooding. A noteworthy point for water levels in Charlottetown, P.E.I., is that had the highest surge arrived 4 hours earlier to coincide exactly with the highest tide, an additional 70 cm of elevation would have pushed levels to 210 cm--near record values that would have resulted in flooding portions of that city.

Gustav is the first landfalling hurricane in Canada to be captured on Doppler radar, passing only 20–30 km southeast of the new Doppler site at Marion Bridge, N.S. (installed June 2002). The Doppler data indicated that Gustav was in transition between tropical and extratropical.

Isidore (September 14–26)

Isidore, one of the season’s two intense hurricanes, moved onshore in Louisiana on the morning of September 26. It weakened rapidly as it tracked north and passed south of the Great Lakes as a post-tropical cyclone on September 27 and through New Brunswick on September 28. Isidore was predominantly a rain event for southern Ontario and Quebec and portions of the Maritimes. Rainfall amounts in Canada were moderate, with locations from southwestern Ontario through much of Atlantic Canada reporting between 25 and 35 mm. The CHC issued 1 bulletin.

Josephine (September 17–19)

Josephine was a minimal tropical storm of 35 knots (eastern quadrant only) as it entered the southeastern extremity of the RZ at 0430Z, September 19. As predicted, the storm centre remained beyond 200 nautical miles from marine forecast areas. Accordingly, no gales were reported and no bulletins were issued.

Kyle (September 20–October 12)

Kyle ended its lengthy life as a tropical cyclone on October 12, just outside the southwestern edge of the RZ, about 350 km south of Long Island. Despite considerable attention paid to Kyle by the CHC, gale force winds (63 km/h) never reached offshore Maritime waters even though Kyle tracked eastward through the southern RZ on September 12–13 as a post-tropical cyclone. The CHC issued 12 bulletins.

Unnamed Cyclones July 7 and September 5

In addition to the tropical cyclones outlined above, a hybrid cyclone passed near Sable Island on July 7 with maximum winds near 74 km/h, and another one near the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland on September 5 with maximum winds near 65 km/h. Although their structure lacked considerable tropical characteristics, both had sufficient tropical aspects to warrant special mention (i.e. striking tropical signatures on satellite imagery).

Additional Information

Preemptive bulletins were also issued for Tropical Storm Cristobal (10), Tropical Storm Hanna (1), Post-tropical Cyclone Lili (2), and Tropical Depression 14 (9), although these systems did not affect Canada. Coordination with the U.S. National Hurricane Center and affected Canadian Regional Weather Centres (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland) preceded the issuance of bulletins.

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