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Canadian Tropical Cyclone Season Summary for 2004

Prepared by: Peter Bowyer

Eight tropical cyclones or their remnants entered the Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) Response Zone (RZ) in 2004: two remained outside Canadian waters, three moved through Canadian waters, and three moved inland following onset of extratropical transition (ET).

Trajectoires des tempêtes de 2004. Huit cyclones tropicaux ont pénétré dans la zone d’intervention du Centre canadien de prévision des ouragans : Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Gaston, Hermine, Jeanne et Nicole. Le cyclone tropical Ivan n’a pas franchi la zone d’intervention mais a apporté les conditions nécessaires à la formation d’une très forte tempête barocline.

In addition, upper tropospheric remnants of Hurricane Ivan (which itself remained outside of the CHC RZ) provided the necessary ingredients for one of Atlantic Canada’s most powerful baroclinic storms of 2004. The storms outlined here claimed at least 7 lives. The CHC issued 104 bulletins during 2004.

Bulletin Summaries for 1998-2004
Bulletin Summaries2004200320022001200019991998
Hurricane Information Statements
Number of Storms Represented by these Bulletins

Alex (July 31–August 6)

Hurricane Alex was in the RZ from 0900 UTC on August 4 to 0800 UTC on August 6. Alex strengthened to Category 3 well within the RZ, making it only the second tropical cyclone to reach major hurricane status at such a northerly latitude. Alex moved into southeastern Canadian waters near 1700 UTC on August 5 as a strong Category 2 / weak Category 3 hurricane and subsequently weakened rapidly as it underwent ET. No impacts were reported from Canadian waters or territory. The CHC issued 26 bulletins.

Bonnie (August 3–13)

Tropical Depression Bonnie became an ET as it entered the RZ south of Cape Cod at 2000 UTC on August 13. The remnant low tracked through the Maritimes where it combined with a baroclinic system approaching from the west. The combined weather system produced heavy rains--with amounts as high as 90 mm in Edmunston--over northwestern New Brunswick which resulted in flooded basements and road washouts and closures. One storm-induced traffic fatality was reported from Edmunston, New Brunswick. The CHC issued 5 bulletins.

Charley (August 9–14)

Tropical Storm Charley underwent ET just prior to entering the RZ along the east coast of the United States at 0300 UTC on August 15. The remnant surface low merged with a frontal system moving through the Maritimes on August 15 bringing local periods of strong winds (less than 65 km/h) and heavy rains. Apart from a brief interruption in some marine activities, Charley had no significant impacts in Canadian waters or territory. The CHC issued 15 bulletins.

Frances(August 25–September 8)

Tropical Storm Frances entered the RZ at 2200 UTC on September 8. After undergoing ET the remnant low passed through extreme southeastern Lake Ontario at marginal gale strength on the morning of September 9. Although the storm centre never entered inside the provincial boundary of Ontario, very heavy rains to the north of the low caused widespread flooding throughout communities in southeastern Ontario. The nation’s capital received a record 135 mm of rain, with the highest amount of 137 mm reported from Kingston. In late 2004 the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated that more than $45 million in Ontario insurance claims had already been submitted. The remnant low continued through eastern Canada, delivering 50–70 mm of rain north of its track. Localized flooding and road washouts were reported in the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland. No fatalities were recorded. The CHC issued 6 bulletins.

Gaston (August 27–September 1)

Tropical Storm Gaston entered the RZ at 0300 UTC on August 31and maintained gale strength at 83 km/h as it entered western Canadian waters late on that day. Gaston completed ET as it passed south of Sable Island on the morning of September 1. Heavy rain north of Gaston just missed mainland Nova Scotia but fell at Sable Island, which recorded 72 mm in four hours (35 mm in one hour). No significant impacts were reported from Canadian waters or territory. The CHC issued 20 bulletins.

Hermine (August 27–31)

Tropical Storm Hermine entered the RZ at 1700 UTC on August 30 at a strength of 83 km/h. A weak interaction with Tropical Storm Gaston caused Hermine to weaken as it tracked towards Cape Cod, following which, it became extratropical. The remnant low centre tracked up the Bay of Fundy on August 31 bringing locally heavy rain to portions of southern New Brunswick, which received 40–55 mm. Minor basement flooding and street closures were reported from Moncton, New Brunswick. The CHC issued 7 bulletins.

Additional Information

Preemptive bulletins were also issued for Tropical Depression Jeanne (18) and Subtropical Cyclone Nicole (7), which entered the RZ but did not enter or have impact on Canadian waters or territory. 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.

Special note must be made of the impacts of Hurricane Ivan on Canada. After wreaking havoc through the Caribbean and United States, Ivan weakened to a tropical depression prior to becoming extratropical inland on August 18 as it reached as far north as the RZ. The often-difficult-to-find surface remnants of Ivan then turned east and moved through southern Maryland before heading offshore and turning back south, eventually moving through Florida and back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was once again declared to be a tropical storm. As the remnant surface circulation of Ivan was turning back south on August 18–19, the mid-upper tropospheric moisture and vorticity continued northeastward along a frontal system and fed directly into a developing baroclinic storm over Atlantic Canada. The result was a powerful 4-day storm which became one of the most significant weather events in Atlantic Canada in 2004. High winds--gusting as high as 143 km/h along the northeast coast of Newfoundland--were responsible for tree blowdowns and power outages in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and eastern Nova Scotia. Heavy rainfall reached its peak in Newfoundland, where three different observing sites each reported in excess of 150 mm (Gander reported 91 continuous hours of precipitation giving 157.6 mm). Seas were estimated to be near 8 m in the Cabot Strait while public reports were received of 15-m swells near Cape Bonavista. Two lives were lost when a fishing vessel was grounded near Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, and four storm-induced traffic fatalities were also reported from Newfoundland. All forecasts and warnings for this baroclinic system were handled by the Environment Canada regional weather centres; accordingly, the CHC did not issue any bulletins.

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