Hot Oceans, Late El Niño Likely to Produce More Hurricanes This Season

Aug 17, 2023

Updated 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has changed its hurricane forecast for 2023. It now expects more storms due to record ocean temperatures and because more named storms have already formed than they had expected.  

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. In May, NOAA estimated that this year’s season had a 30% chance of being stronger than average. That number now stands at 60%, NOAA's experts say. 

"There is a doubling of the chance of a hurricane making landfall on the East Coast of the US," NOAA's lead hurricane forecaster told The Associated Press.

The strongest storms receive names. Early predictions suggested there would be only two by mid-August. That’s already more than doubled, as five named storms have formed since June. NOAA now believes there will be 14-21 named storms in 2023. That's up from their first projection of 12-17.   

Hot ocean temperatures and a delayed El Niño are to blame for the new forecast, NOAA says. Warm waters add moisture and movement to the air. That can make storms stronger. The Atlantic Ocean has been a record 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average this summer. In a normal El Niño year, the warmer currents would create winds that push storms back out to sea. But El Niño has been late to form this year. The combination of factors means forecasters need to keep careful watch.  

NOAA's lead forecaster told The Washington Post that they can only predict when a storm will make landfall about a week ahead of time. So, he said, people should take the new forecast seriously and be prepared.

Reflect: Do you trust long-term weather forecasts? Explain.

According to the information in the infographic, there is a _______ % chance that the US will have a near normal or below normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2023. (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. 60
b. 40
c. 25
d. 15
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