Science and TechNatural Disasters


Meteorologists predict 'near-normal' 2023 Atlantic hurricane season

The hurricane season beginning June 1 will likely be average, but a highly likely El Niño could complicate the forecast.
Bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
Posted at 4:50 PM, May 25, 2023

The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will be near-normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

NOAA forecasters predict there will be 12 to 17 total named storms in the Atlantic basin, of which five to nine could develop into hurricanes and one to four could become major hurricanes during the June 1 to Nov. 30 season.

These expectations mean the season would be less active than recent years, though warm waters and a highly likely El Niño could complicate the outlook.

For the last three hurricane seasons, the oceans have been in successive La Niña periods, with colder waters that can lead to more severe hurricane seasons in the Atlantic.

El Niño would typically do the opposite, suppressing Atlantic hurricane activity by increasing winds in the upper atmosphere above the tropical Atlantic. But this season, warmer waters, which create favorable conditions, are complicating the forecast.

That's led NOAA to say there's a 40% chance of a near-normal hurricane season and 30% chances of an above-normal or below-normal season.

On average, there have been more storms and stronger hurricanes in recent years, with hurricanes showing greater tendency to intensify in shorter periods of time. 

National Hurricane Center's website

Forecasters missed naming subtropical system in January

The National Hurricane Center said it missed naming a subtropical storm in January with an eye-like feature off the U.S. East Coast.


Last season started off slow, breaking a seven-year record by not having a pre-season storm. There ended up being eight hurricanes, an average number, most of which didn't threaten the continental U.S. — until Ian hit.

Ian began in September as a tropical depression in the Caribbean, then above-average temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico gave it a big boost. It became one of the strongest storms to ever hit the U.S., devastating the Fort Myers, Florida, area as a Category 4 hurricane.

NOAA warned of what happened with Hurricane Ian in its new forecast.

"As we saw with Hurricane Ian, it only takes one hurricane to cause widespread devastation and upend lives. 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," said Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator.

NOAA said critical investments in hurricane modeling led to further accuracy and a 70% confidence in this year's forecasts.

But this summer, it's expected to unveil more improvements to its hurricane forecasting system, including a model that will improve forecasts by 10% to 15%, and 20% more system capacity that will allow it to run more complex forecast models. This will hopefully lead to more accurate and timely forecasts, which help inform storm planning for different federal and local governments.