What's likely in store for hurricane season. We've got the details from NOAA
Published in News & Features
MIAMI -- For the first time in several years, the 2023 hurricane season could be quieter than usual, with calls for a “near normal” season.
At a press conference Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its official prediction for the upcoming hurricane season: 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine of which could develop into hurricanes and one to four that could strengthen into powerful Category 3 or stronger storms. The top end is Category 5.
The agency predicts there’s a 40% chance of a near-normal season and a 30% chance of either a below-average or above-average season.
Matthew Rosencrans, lead hurricane season outlook forecaster for NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said scientists made their prediction based on the combination of factors, some of which usually signal a quieter season and others that are usually associated with active hurricane seasons.
“It’s definitely kind of a rare setup for this year, which is why our probabilities are not 60 or 70%, to reflect that uncertainty,” he said. “When we looked at it we thought wow, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the outlook.”
Last year was considered a slightly above-average storm year, with 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes and two major hurricanes, including, infamously, Hurricane Ian. Category 5 Hurricane Ian slammed the Southwest coast of Florida in September, killing nearly 100 people, destroying thousands of homes and earning a spot in the record books as Florida’s most expensive storm to date.
Hurricane Nicole, which struck Florida’s northeast coast as a Category 1 in November, also walloped the state with more flooding rain and storm surge that chewed off pieces of the beach, leaving houses and condominium buildings perched on the brink of collapse.
El Niño versus very hot Atlantic
NOAA’s prediction hinges on the formation of an atmospheric phenomenon called El Niño, which warms waters in the Pacific Ocean and shifts upper-level winds in the Atlantic. That makes it more difficult for hurricanes to form and usually heralds a quieter season.
But relative calm in the Atlantic doesn’t come free. El Niño is also associated with a colder, wetter winter for other parts of the U.S., which could cause more intense snowstorms and flooding.
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