Earlier this month, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters increased their prediction for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season from a near-normal level of activity to an above-normal level of activity. They believe that current ocean and atmospheric conditions, such as record-level warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures, are likely to counterbalance the usually limiting atmospheric conditions associated with the ongoing El Niño event.
NOAA’s update is similar to a July 6 Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane update. CSU also increased its prediction to an above-average hurricane season.
NOAA has increased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60% (the May outlook predicted a 30% chance). The likelihood of near-normal activity has decreased to 25%, down from the 40% chances in May’s outlook. This new update gives a 15% chance of seeing a below-normal season.
NOAA’s update to the 2023 outlook — which covers the entire six-month hurricane season that ends on Nov. 30 — calls for 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which six to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater). Of those, two to five could become major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% level of confidence. These updated ranges include storms that have already formed this season.
NOAA’s hurricane outlooks are forecasts of overall season activity, not landfalls.
An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which seven become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.
El Niño conditions are currently being observed. There is a greater than 95% chance that El Niño will continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter, according to the latest El Niño/Southern Oscillation discussion from the NOAA National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. El Niño usually results in atmospheric conditions that help to lessen tropical activity during the Atlantic hurricane season. So far, those limiting conditions have been slow to develop. Climate scientists are forecasting that the associated impacts that tend to limit tropical cyclone activity may not be in place for much of the remaining hurricane season.
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