The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season could feature below-average activity, according to researchers from Colorado State University. If the forecast pans out, it will be the first season since 2014, almost 10 years ago, with below-normal activity.
Early on Thursday, researchers from the Colorado State University Tropical Weather and Climate Research Group released their preliminary forecast for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season. During the period, which runs from June 1 through November 30, they expect thirteen named storms. Out of those thirteen, 6 are expected to be hurricanes, and 2 of those 6 are expected to be major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). This forecast is just slightly below the statistical average for hurricane season: 14.4 named storms, 7.2 hurricanes, and 3.2 major hurricanes.
The main factor contributing to the below-average forecast is the phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation. La Niña conditions, which support Atlantic tropical cyclones have dominated the basin since the summer of 2020. However, this three-year La Niña event has begun to wane, and the pattern is shifting to ENSO neutral conditions. Forecasters predict a transition to El Niño conditions as early as the summer: El Niño events tend to increase wind shear in the Atlantic Basin and suppress tropical cyclone activity.
Researchers note that another important ingredient in tropical cyclone formation and lifespan, sea surface temperatures, are still trending above average. Such conditions generally support tropical cyclone development and intensification. Above-average sea surface temperatures will likely detract from the impact of the developing El Niño. As such the forecast calls for just slightly below-average activity.
The forecasters note that because the seasonal outlook depends largely on the forecasted strength of the developing El Niño, there is a high level of uncertainty in the outlook. As the official start of hurricane season approaches, more information about the El Niño event will be available, and adjustments to the seasonal forecast can be made.
Although this forecast anticipates near or below-average activity for the 2023 Hurricane Season, interests are encouraged to remember that it only takes one landfalling storm to produce substantial impacts to life and property. Regardless of the forecast, preparations for the upcoming hurricane season should be ongoing. For more on how to prepare, visit floridadisaster.org.