The 2023 hurricane season is quickly approaching its June 1st start date. While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center’s Tropical Storm Outlook is due next month, several University researchers have already released their forecasts.

Universities Agree: 2023 Will Be an Average Tropical Storm Year

Colorado State University’s Tropical Weather and Climate Research division and North Carolina State’s Hurricane Center both released their 2023 hurricane forecasts this month. One of the most interesting comparisons of the reports is how much they agree:

This rings particularly true because 2023 is an especially difficult year to predict due to the following conflicting factors:

  • The El Niño Southern Oscillation is mid transition from a La Niña pattern and could switch to an El Niño pattern mid-season, which tends to decrease the number of storms in the Atlantic.
  • Atlantic Ocean Water is already very warm for this time of year, which usually increases the number of storms.

If the El Niño fails to form or is weak, then the warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures could lead to a higher than average Hurricane year. However, if the El Niño does form, it will likely cause an increase in atmospheric wind shear and lead to an average or lower than average year.

NOAA Updated El Niño Prediction

Over the past two months, La Niña conditions have faded away and were replaced by a Neutral ENSO period. Now, NOAA  predicts that will likely be replaced by El Niño conditions in late April or May. Subsurface water is becoming warmer in the tropical Pacific after months of colder than normal temperatures, which is a sign of the transition.

NOAA: Subsurface Pacific Ocean Temperatures

As we get closer to the peak of the season, researchers will continue to update the models and work to reduce the level of uncertainty. In the meantime, check out our blogs on the 2023 Wildfire and Tornado Outlooks.


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