TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It could be a slightly below-average 2023 hurricane season, according to a long-range forecast from researchers at Colorado State University.
Based on information collected through March and developed using four decades of past data, researchers predict the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season will feature 6 hurricanes — two of them Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricanes — and 13 named storms. The university also predicts 55 named storm days, 25 hurricane days, and 5 major hurricane days in the Atlantic basin.
Researchers predict the probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall along the Gulf Coast is 28%. The average from 1880 to 2020 is 27%.
“We anticipate that the 2023 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have slightly below-average activity,” said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU.
“Current neutral ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) conditions look fairly likely to transition to El Niño this summer/fall. However, there is considerable uncertainty as to how strong an El Niño would be, if it does develop.”
Klotzbach says El Niño typically reduces Atlantic hurricane activity through increases in vertical wind shear, however, because sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are much warmer than normal, the potential still exists for a busy Atlantic hurricane season if a robust El Niño does not develop.
He also noted that larger-than-normal uncertainty exists with this outlook.
“We are transitioning from the La Niña weather pattern to the El Niño weather pattern,” WFLA Meteorologist Rebecca Barry said, explaining why seasonal forecasts are calling for fewer storms than the previous years.
“The graphic shows the total number of hurricanes during a La Niña pattern vs the total number of hurricanes during an El Niño pattern,” Barry added. “While the number of hurricanes during El Niño years is significantly less, notable and very damaging hurricanes have made landfall during these times. It only takes one bad storm for it to be a bad season if it impacts your area.”
“Everyone should realize that it is impossible to precisely predict this season’s hurricane activity in early April,” the forecast’s authors said. “We would never issue a seasonal hurricane forecast unless we had models developed over a long hindcast period which showed skill.”
The 2023 hurricane outlook is the university’s 40th year in which its Tropical Meteorology Project has made forecasts of the upcoming season’s Atlantic basin hurricane activity. The university says its models, which have grown in notoriety over the years, predict tropical cyclone activity based on 25–40 years of historical data.
“We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring
attention to the hurricane problem. There is a general interest in knowing what the odds
are for an active or inactive season.”
The 2023 Atlantic Basin hurricane season officially begins on June 1, and ends on Nov. 30. This season’s potential hurricane names include:
Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.