Conditions are brewing for an active hurricane season this year.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth is predicting between 14 and 23 named storms this season, eight to 14 of which will be hurricanes. Hurricane season officially begins next week, but most storms hit between August to October.

“We’re definitely expecting an above-average season,” said Chris Fogarty of the hurricane centre.

“If our waters are running a little warmer than normal, then that could maintain the tropical characteristic of the storm for just a little longer.”

But it’s not water temperatures that are making more storms. Fogarty said atmospheric conditions will determine the “flavour” of storms this year.

Last year’s El Nino meant fewer storms because the winds are lighter, but 2010 is a La Nina year, which means more storms in the Atlantic Ocean.

Usually there are between three and four major hurricanes of at least Category 3 (winds of at least 176 km/h). This year, meteorologists are predicting between three and seven major hurricanes.

But no matter how many storms are predicted, Fogarty said it just takes one or two destructive hurricanes to make it a bad year.

“The idea is to be prepared and understand your risks,” Fogarty said.

People shouldn’t wait for hurricane season to get prepared either, said Andy Lathem, interim CEO of the province’s Emergency Management Office.

He said people should know the risks of high winds and flooding and take precautions.

“We urge people to stay away from coastal areas during these times of increased risks (of storm surges),” he advised.

There were two big storms in the province last year — Bill and Danny — and they both hit in August.

A storm by any other name
The following are the names chosen for this year’s storms:
• Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter.

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