NOAA predicts a ‘near-normal’ hurricane season for 2023

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects approximately 12-17 named storms this year. Of them, 5-9 are predicted to become hurricanes.


Hurricane Harvey Satellite Image On August 25th, 2017.

There is likely to be somewhere between one and four major hurricanes in the Atlantic this season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, due to a relatively rare confluence of oceanic factors around the globe.

Whether or not one or more storms will touch the Texas Gulf coast is, of course, unknown.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through the end of November. In preparation, NOAA announced it expects what it calls a "near-normal" hurricane season this year, with approximately 12-17 named storms.

"Of these, 5-9 are predicted to become hurricanes, with maximum winds of at least 74 miles per hour," NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad said. "This includes 1-4 major hurricanes ranking as category 3 or above, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour."

NOAA expects El Niño, a pattern of warmer ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific, to develop this year. It can affect weather patterns across the globe, and it tends to calm conditions in the Gulf. The stronger the El Niño, the fewer storms typically arise. Historically, NOAA has recorded anywhere between 6-18 storms during an El Niño event.

However, conditions that are conducive to hurricanes are also at play simultaneously, including warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean Sea. Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane season outlook forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said the mix of conditions is relatively rare, making this year's season difficult to predict.

"Having a strong El Niño with an active era and high sea surface temperatures is something I've only seen one other time," Rosencrans said. "It's definitely a rare setup for this year."

One trend that has emerged in recent years is storms intensifying more quickly. What may start as a category 1 storm may become more severe over a very short period before it reaches landfall.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned those living in vulnerable areas to seek up-to-date information and remain prepared, regardless of it they've experienced storms before.

"The risks of storms today are different than they were 10 years ago," Criswell said. “It’s going to be a mindset shift for people who are typically going to say, ‘Well, I’ve lived through a category 1,' and all of the sudden, it’s a category 3. They'll say, ‘I’ve lived through this before,' and now we have an intense storm surge and increased rainfall that’s creating additional hazards that they haven’t experienced before.”

There were 14 named storms last season and eight hurricanes, but none of them affected the Texas Gulf Coast.

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