Many factors still at play: Canadian Hurricane Centre
© Image courtesy of the Canadian Hurricane Centre
This digital track map, obtained from the Canadian Hurricane Centre today at 11 a.m. shows the expected track for Leslie and the projected time frame for its movement.
Since Friday afternoon when interviews were conducted, Leslie’s track has become clearer, and some of the information in this story has changed. Meteorologists at the Canadian Hurricane Centre are now nearly certain Leslie will make impact with the island of Newfoundland by early Tuesday, according to the most recent report issued by the Centre. Leslie is also expected to merge with a front, causing the storm to strengthen, bringing heavy rainfall and high winds. Tropical storm and rainfall warnings are now in effect for most of the island, with hurricane watches in some areas. Though eastern parts of the island are expected to see the highest wind impact, winds up to 100 km/h are still possible for most of the island. Heavy rainfall is expected across Newfoundland with the highest amounts expected for the western region. Rainfall amounts of 4-6 inches are possible, which could lead to flooding in some areas. Check your local forecast for updated information on what to expect.
An active hurricane season for the Atlantic could mean some severe weather is on its way to the island of Newfoundland.
Late last week, Leslie, a tropical storm that formed over the Atlantic Ocean, was upgraded to a category one hurricane. Digital models from various weather service organizations showed the storm first passing over Bermuda, and then making its way straight for Newfoundland.
Warnings of possible impact with Newfoundland stirred up memories of Hurricane Igor, which struck the island in 2010 and left behind millions of dollars of damage.
As of Friday, digital track predictions for Leslie, available on Environment Canada’s Hurricane Centre website, showed the storm passing just off the Avalon.
Chris Fogarty is a meteorologist, and is also the manager of the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Nova Scotia. He told the Advertiser on Friday afternoon that even though track predictions show the centre of the storm hitting just off the Avalon Peninsula, if the predictions materialize, the sheer size of the storm would mean it would likely affect the entire island.
But Fogarty added because Leslie has been stalled in it’s current position for a few days, it appears to be weakening.
“Because it has been stuck there so long, it’s stirring up all the cold water under it causing it to weaken,” he said. “It’s actually tropical storm intensity right now, the size of it is still quite large, but wind speeds are not extreme at this point.”
He said in rare cases, a storm stalled too long can sometimes snuff itself out.
Fogarty said one factor that is causing meteorologists to still monitor Leslie with a close eye is a low-pressure trough that, as of press time Friday, was slowly moving eastward over the Great Lakes.
“What happens is going to depend on this trough of low pressure,” he explained.
According to Fogarty, if the low-pressure front merges with Leslie at the right time, it would likely affect most of Newfoundland – which is what happened with Hurricane Igor in 2010.
“This (low-pressure zone) could pull the storm north towards the island of Newfoundland, and at the same time cause it to intensify,” he said. “That’s the more probable scenario, but position and timing are all still difficult to (predict).”
Fogarty said on Friday there was approximately a 30 per cent chance of Leslie hitting Newfoundland with the predicted time frame of Tuesday or Wednesday.
He said while the storm could pick up to hurricane strengths again, it might not reach category two as was originally expected.
“This could still be a non-event considering all the stuff that’s going on with it,” he said. “Meteorologically, this storm is quite interesting, it’s one of the more challenging situations we’ve experienced.”
According to Fogarty, a much smaller, but more intense hurricane, dubbed Michael, was sitting about 2,000 kilometers east of Leslie as of Friday afternoon. Michael is not expected to have any impact on eastern Canada.
Isaac, which hit parts of the United States earlier this month, as well as Michael and Leslie, are just three storms that are part of what is expected to be a very active hurricane season.
The season, which is officially defined as June through November, sees 80-90 per cent of storms form in August and September, according to Fogarty.
“The reason for that is essentially, this time of year waters are the warmest they get throughout the year, and the fact that you haven’t got your autumn- and winter-type storms forming yet means the earth basically has a build up of heat,” he said.
A tropical cyclone or hurricane is a mechanism to expend that built-up heat.
Fogarty said a lack of weather systems over the summer, coupled with warmer than normal air, and in turn, water temperatures, means this hurricane season will be a more active one.
To keep up-to-date on all warnings, digital track models, and information on hurricanes and tropical storms, including Leslie, visit the Canadian Hurricane Centre website at www.hurricanes.ca.