COLLEGE PARK, Md. − The federal government predicts a near-normal 2023 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin: Five to nine hurricanes are expected to form.
Overall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts that 12 to 17 named tropical storms will develop in the region, which includes the Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, the agency announced early Thursday at a news conference at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction.
The season officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
The season is expected to be less active than in recent years because of competing factors − some that suppress storm development and some that fuel it − driving this year’s overall forecast for a near-normal season.
After three hurricane seasons under the La Niña weather pattern, NOAA scientists predict a high potential for an El Niño to develop this summer, which can suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. El Niño’s potential influence on storm development could be offset by favorable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin, NOAA said.
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Of the hurricanes, one to four could be major: wind speeds of 111 mph or higher and rated as Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale of Hurricane Intensity. An average season typically spawns seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September.
A tropical storm contains wind speeds of 39 mph or higher and becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 mph.
Meteorologists from Colorado State University, in a forecast released last month, predict that 13 tropical storms will form, of which six will become hurricanes.
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Last year, the 2022 season produced eight hurricanes. It was most notable for the death and destruction wrought by hurricanes Fiona, Ian and Nicole.
Forecasters also released their prediction for the eastern Pacific Basin, where 14 to 20 named storms are expected. An average eastern Pacific hurricane season produces 15 named storms. Eastern Pacific storms and hurricanes primarily stay out to sea and seldom affect the U.S. mainland, although some storms do hit the west coast of Mexico.
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As it does every year, NOAA called for preparedness, noting it takes only one storm to make a bad season.
“As we saw with Hurricane Ian, it only takes one hurricane to cause widespread devastation and upend lives,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said. “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. The time to prepare is now.”