Forecasters Predict ‘Near Normal’ Hurricane Season for Gulf Coast
GULF OF MEXICO (KPEL News) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its forecast for the 2023 hurricane season, predicting what they're calling a "near-normal" number of tropical storms.
The forecast, which was released Thursday, is calling for 12 to 17 named storms. Of those, NOAA is estimating 5 to 9 could become hurricanes, with 1 to 4 becoming major hurricanes (which usually means a Category 3, 4, or 5 storm).
NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, predict near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year. NOAA’s outlook for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which goes from June 1 to November 30, predicts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.
"Near-normal," in this case, would mean about an average number of hurricanes during the typical hurricane season. NOAA, which falls under the U.S. Department of Commerce, has 70 percent confidence in its forecast.
“Thanks to the Commerce Department and NOAA’s critical investments this year in scientific and technological advancements in hurricane modeling, NOAA will be able to deliver even more accurate forecasts, helping ensure communities have the information they need to prepare for and respond to the destructive economic and ecological impacts of Atlantic hurricanes,” Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said Thursday.
“With a changing climate, the data and expertise NOAA provides to emergency managers and partners to support decision-making before, during and after a hurricane has never been more crucial,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said. “To that end, this year we are operationalizing a new hurricane forecast model and extending the tropical cyclone outlook graphic from five to seven days, which will provide emergency managers and communities with more time to prepare for storms.”
Other Key Forecasts
Colorado State University's Seasonal Hurricane Forecasting team in April predicted 13 named storms, six of which could be hurricanes. Of those six, two are expected to be "major" hurricanes. The reason for the slightly below-average season is due to the development of an El Nino system that could impact the development of storms.
But the forecast team at the University of Arizona released its hurricane season forecast in late April, and it's predicting a season similar to 2017. That's the year that produced Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Xubin Zeng, Arizona professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences, and his team are predicting nine storms this year, with up to five of them being major storms.
Named Storms for 2023
The list of names used for storms is rotated every year. This year's storm names are Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.
The hurricane season officially beings on June 1, but it often takes a while for major storms to develop in the Atlantic and impact the Gulf Coast. There is always the potential for named storms to develop before the official start of the season, , as we have seen in recent years, but the development of El Nino is likely to impact any chances of that.