This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.


Map: Every Canadian hurricane landfall since 1866

Experts predict a busier than normal hurricane season for 2016
  • Jun 01, 2016
  • 466 words
  • 2 minutes
Tracks of every hurricane or tropical system that has made landfall in Canada since 1866. Storms of significance are outlined in black Expand Image

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1st, and experts say this could be a busier storm year than North Americans have come to expect.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts up to 16 named storms of which four to eight could become hurricanes, and one to four could become major hurricanes. (According to the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, a storm gets a name when it has sustained winds of 68 to 118 km/h, becomes a hurricane when sustained winds reach 119 km/h, and is classified as a major hurricane when sustained winds surpass 178 km/h.)

If NOAA’s predictions come to pass, it will be a departure from the past couple of seasons, which have seen below-average activity in the Atlantic basin; 12 named storms were recorded during the 2015 season, while the 2014 season saw only nine. Of course, storm activity isn’t necessarily a predictor of storm intensity: the first named stormed of 2014, Arthur, made landfall in Nova Scotia at near Category 1 strength and dumped close to 150 mm of rain on parts of New Brunswick.

According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, the number of storms reaching Canada each year has been on the increase since 2000, with about one hurricane making landfall every other year and one to two storms of tropical origin moving over land every year. As shown above in our map of hurricane activity over the past 148 years, a few storms have been truly devastating or noteworthy:

  • Hurricane Hazel (1954) — The deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 season, Hazel was a rare storm that affected southern Ontario instead of curving northeast with the prevailing winds. Flooding from Hazel’s rains killed 81 people and destroyed thousands of homes, prompting an intensive review of the province’s disaster preparedness and erosion control strategies.
  • Hurricane Juan (2003) — While not the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Canada (that record belongs to Hurricane Ginny in 1963), Juan’s track took it directly through the Halifax Regional Municipality, making it the city’s most destructive storm in modern history. Eight people died, and more than a decade later, some of the city’s trees still bear scars from Juan’s onslaught.
  • Hurricane Igor (2010) — On its own, Igor might have been a non-story for Newfoundland, but a stationary front over the Maritimes interacted with the storm as it grazed the Avalon Peninsula, causing unprecedented rainfall in parts of the province. Flash flooding killed one person and washed out roads and bridges, cutting off entire communities and in at least one case requiring an entire town to be evacuated by boat.

Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

The War of 1812 giant floor encourages students to interact with history


Giant floor maps put students on the map

Canadian Geographic Education’s series of giant floor maps gives students a colossal dose of cartography and is a powerful teaching tool

  • 1487 words
  • 6 minutes


Best Canadian Geographic maps from 2015

If you’ve ever had to help make a map, it gives you a whole new appreciation for the art form. As editor of Canadian Geographic, I’ve found myself more…

  • 899 words
  • 4 minutes
Assassin's Creed Odyssey landscape


Inside the intricate world of video game cartography

Maps have long played a critical role in video games, whether as the main user interface, a reference guide, or both. As games become more sophisticated, so too does the cartography that underpins them. 

  • 2569 words
  • 11 minutes
Climate strike Victoria BC


Why Canada should recognize its citizens’ environmental rights

David Boyd, a Canadian environmental lawyer and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, reveals how recognizing the human right to a healthy environment can spur positive action for the planet

  • 1444 words
  • 6 minutes