Though much uncertainty remains, 2023 is expected to be a “near-normal” hurricane season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The NOAA on Thursday released its forecast for 2023’s hurricane season. While there’s still a lot of uncertainty for the season, NOAA forecasters generally are expecting a “near-normal” hurricane season.
The NOAA is predicting somewhere between 12 and 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher) for 2023’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Five to nine of those storms will likely become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher) and one to four will reach hurricane strength (Category 3 or higher with winds of 111 mph or higher), the NOAA said.
The NOAA said it has “70% confidence” in that prediction.
That would mean a relatively regular hurricane season, though there’s still a chance things could change—the NOAA forecasters give a 40% chance of a near-normal season, then a 30% chance of a more intense season, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.
That forecast is largely driven by competing factors— El Niño conditions that suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean, which tend to increase the likelihood of storms developing.
“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. Whether you live on the coast or further inland, hurricanes can cause serious impacts to everybody in their path,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
Hurricane Ian was one of two major storms of the 2022 hurricane season, hitting the area between South Florida and the Carolinas in late September. The storm caused the closure of some Walt Disney Resort hotels and theme parks, along with schedule changes for a number of major cruise ships operating in the Caribbean. It also caused the travel industry to again step up to help displaced people.
The other major storm was Hurricane Fiona, which landed in Puerto Rico in September before moving toward Turks & Caicos and Bermuda. In Puerto Rico, an island that was five years remove since Hurricane Maria caused 3,000 deaths on the island, the storm brought with it winds of 85 mph and rainfall of up to 25 inches in some areas.
In terms of names for the 2023 season, here is what NOAA is planning: