Accessibility links

Breaking News

US Forecasts 'Near Normal' 2023 Hurricane Season

FILE: FILE - The bridge leading from Fort Myers to Pine Island, Fla., is seen heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Pine Island, Florida, on Oct. 1, 2022.

WASHINGTON - The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] says it predicts a "near normal" hurricane season with 12 to 17 named storms packing winds of at least 63 kph.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with NOAA predicting a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, a 30 percent chance of an above-normal season and a 30 percent chance of a below-normal season.

Of that number of storms predicted, NOAA says five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 119kph or higher), including one to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 178kph or higher).

NOAA said it has 70 percent confidence in these ranges.

After three seasons with an atmospheric phenomenon called La Nina, NOAA predicts an El Nino to develop this summer, which has a suppressive effect on hurricane activity.

But this could be offset by more localized conditions favorable for hurricanes, such as an above-normal west African monsoon, "which produces African easterly waves and seeds some of the stronger and longer-lived Atlantic storms," NOAA said.

Predicted warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meanwhile add more energy to developing storms.

"With a changing climate, the data and expertise NOAA provides to emergency managers and partners to support decision-making before, during and after a hurricane has never been more crucial," said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.

In general, climate change is making hurricanes more powerful as they feed on warmer ocean surfaces, scientists say.

In 2022, Hurricane Ian in particular devastated Florida, killing dozens and causing more than $100 billion in damage - by far the costliest weather disaster in the world last year.