UPDATE, May 26: The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season will be “near-normal,” according to the official forecast from the U.S. government.
In its annual outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a total of 12 to 17 named storms in the region encompassing the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast, and the U.S. Atlantic coastline.
Of those storms, five to nine could become hurricanes (with winds of 74 mph or higher), the federal agency expects, with one to four developing into major hurricanes (with winds of 111 mph or higher).
Meteorologists think 2023’s hurricane season will be less active than during recent years due to factors such as this summer’s high potential for the development of an El Niño weather pattern, which can suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
However, warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the region could offset El Niño’s influence, NOAA warns, because a warmer sea surface “creates more energy to fuel storm development.”
As USA Today explains, a typical Atlantic hurricane season produces seven hurricanes. The season lasts from June 1 through November 30, usually reaching a peak in August and September.
The region weathered eight hurricanes in 2022, according to NOAA. Two of those, Fiona and Ian (pictured above), intensified to major hurricanes.
“As we saw with Hurricane Ian, it only takes one hurricane to cause widespread devastation and upend lives,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell in a statement. “So regardless of the number of storms predicted this season, it is critical that everyone understand their risk and heed the warnings of state and local officials.”
The government’s prediction for a relatively average Atlantic hurricane season reinforces an earlier forecast from weather watchers at Colorado State University. They anticipate six hurricanes in the region this year.
Details about that forecast, as well as further info about 2023’s hurricane season, can be found in the below post, originally published April 14.
We’re in for a less intense than usual Atlantic hurricane season this year, according to a well-regarded early forecast.
In a prediction released this week, weather researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) announced they anticipate “slightly below-average activity” in hurricanes developing near the U.S. Atlantic coastline, on the Gulf Coast, and in the Caribbean.
Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 through November 30 (reaching a peak in August, September, and October), is expected to produce 13 named storms in 2023, the forecasters say. Six of those could become hurricanes and two could grow into major hurricanes, according to the weather prediction.
The anticipated totals for 2023 are slightly below the historical norms of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
The 14 named storms of 2022 (which included Hurricane Ian, pictured above in a satellite image) broke a 6-year streak of busier-than-normal hurricane seasons, Reuters reports. There were 21 named storms two years ago in 2021, for instance.
Why do some experts think we’ll get fewer hurricanes in 2023?
That has to do with the likelihood of an El Niño weather pattern developing this summer and fall. “El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic,” CSU researchers explain. “The increased upper-level winds result in vertical wind shear which can tear apart hurricanes as they try to form.”
There’s still some uncertainty, however, about how strong the El Niño will be if it does develop.
Since “sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are much warmer than normal”—conditions conducive to hurricane formation—”if a robust El Niño does not develop, the potential still exists for a busy Atlantic hurricane season,” the early forecast warns.
Of course, it only takes one hurricane to destroy a vacation, so travelers planning to visit Caribbean islands or coastal areas of Florida, the Carolinas, Louisiana, and elsewhere in late summer and early autumn will want to plan accordingly. The CDC’s page of tips for preparing for a hurricane or other tropical storm is a good place to start.
To increase your chances of avoiding a big storm altogether while visiting the region during hurricane season, see our list of Caribbean islands seldom hit by hurricanes.