Above - Tropical Storm Arlene churns in the Gulf of Mexico in June 2023
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released an update to the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast. The agency is now calling for:
14-21 Named Storms
2-5 Major Hurricanes
At the start of hurricane season (June), NOAA was calling for an average season with 12-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes and 1-4 major hurricanes. A typical season is 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 of which become a CAT 3 or stronger (MAJOR). There is a 60% chance of an above-normal season for the 2023 year.
NOAA calls on above average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic the reason for the increase in the forecast. We have already seen 4 named storms this season: Arlene, Brett, Cindy and Don. These four storms are included in the numbers above, as the named storms will be a "season total". Don is our only hurricane of 2023 thus far, as it reached Category 1 strength (winds 74-95 mph) in the open waters of the northern Atlantic.
Forecasters have had to balance an El Niño state and the ocean waters in creating this years forecast. An El Niño typically contributes to below average hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin due to higher shear that can tear hurricanes apart. However, above average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic help with thunderstorm development and subsequent potential tropical development.
Forecasters at Colorado State University released their final update to the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast on August 3, also calling for an above average season with 18 named storms, 9 of which will be hurricanes and 4 of which are expected to be major hurricanes (CAT 3+). This is a sharp increase from the initial forecast back in May of 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. Dr. Phil Klotzbach, head of the hurricane unit, attributes the warmer than average sea surface temperatures for the increase.
The season has been quiet in terms of land impacts to the U.S. or even the Caribbean, however, don't let your guard down. The next 6 weeks bring a sharp increase in the number of hurricanes expected, even during El Niño years. Build your hurricane prep kit now and stay with WeatherNation for the latest in the storm forecasts.