SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins in exactly one week on June 1st. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Climate Prediction Center have released their seasonal forecast – forecasting a near-average season.
Their forecast calls for a near-average season with 12-17 named storms with 5-9 developing into hurricanes. 1-4 hurricanes may become major hurricanes of category 3 or greater (winds of 111 mph or greater).
Comparing their forecast to the average (1991-2020) number of storms and hurricanes we see each season, they are expecting a near-normal season due factors that will both suppress storm development (El Niño) and increase it (warm sea surface temperatures & active African Monsoon).
A big reason why NOAA is expecting the 2023 season to be less active than the last 3 seasons is because of the high possibility of an El Niño developing by this summer. This leads to strong wind shear over the Atlantic, which usually helps tear apart developing storms, would be not as strong through the season. Previous seasons have been dominated by the La Niña phase persisting in the Pacific, leading to weak wind shear over the Atlantic.
Sea surface temperatures have been warmer than average in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This will help fuel storms as they develop over water.
The west African monsoon is expected to be very active this season. This will mean more tropical waves will move into the Atlantic. Since there will be more tropical waves, more storms have a chance of growing into full tropical storms or hurricanes.
This is not a forecast of where storms may develop or impact. It does take just one storm for a hurricane season to be a bad season locally.
The 2022 season was the first time since 2015 that we didn’t have an above average season. Last year, we ended the season right near average with 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. As of today, May 25, the National Hurricane Center does have a low chance of cyclone formation over the gulf stream from an area of low pressure moving along the Carolina coast.
Colorado State University also puts out their own pre-season hurricane forecast. They are forecasting a season close to NOAA, but just a slightly below with 13 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. The possible El Niño is big reason why they expect a slightly below average season, just like NOAA, around the peak of the season. They did stress that if the El Niño does not develop or does not become strong enough, then due to above average sea surface temperatures, the season could be average or above average.