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Hurricane Watch 31 May, 2023 Follow News


By Staff Writer

It’s that time of year - the official start of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season again. In their latest update this week, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a less active hurricane season this year compared to recent years.

According to its projections, there’s a 40 per cent chance of a near-normal season, with a 30 per cent chance of an above-normal season, and a 30 per cent for a below-normal season.

Between 12 and 17 named storms could develop of which five to nine of them could be hurricanes. Four major hurricanes may form according to the updated outlook.

In a statement, NOAA said it has a 70 per cent confidence rate in these ranges for what it expects to be an overall near-normal season.

A main factor is what’s known in meteorology as the El Nino factor, the opposite of the La Nina phenomenon which was the driving force behind the active hurricane seasons over the past few years.

“After three hurricane seasons with La Nina present, there’s a high potential for El Nino to develop this summer, which can suppress Atlantic hurricane activity,” NOAA said in the statement.

“El Nino’s potential influence on storm development could be offset by favourable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin. Those conditions include the potential for an above-normal West African monsoon, which produces African easterly waves and seeds some of the stronger and longer-lived Atlantic storms, and warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which creates more energy to fuel storm development.”

However, in a note of caution, it reminds that “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.”

Another update will be published in early August, “just prior to the historical peak of the season”, NOAA said in the statement.

The current outlook is less ominous than earlier projections from April this year.

At that time several weather experts were predicting an active 2023 hurricane season, with around 19 named storms, and nine hurricanes - five of which were expected to be major - especially for the North Atlantic.

They had forecast Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures to be the highest since 2010 and even hotter than 2020. However, it was noted then that there could be some weather mitigating factors which “should help bring down hurricane activities.”

In one projection, forecasters at the Department of Hydrologic and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona said “It will be an interesting battle between the two sides this summer.”

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had also noted then that for more than two years, the weather pattern known as La Niña has influenced the weather across the Northern Hemisphere. For the Gulf, it has meant a higher likelihood of storm activity “because La Niña makes it easier for storms to form.”

But they had expected the climate pendulum could swing the other way which seems to be happening now.

“El Niño, the contrasting pattern to La Niña, could settle in later this year, bringing more wind shear to the Atlantic basin that stymies hurricane formation,” according to the NOAA.

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.

The storm names for this year are: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.

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