By Staff Writer
With two months to go before the start of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, scientists at the major weather monitoring and forecasting centres are keeping close tabs on weather trends which could give an insight into how intense or not this year could turn out to be.
Their forecasts of hurricane activity cover the wide spread of scenarios from disaster preparedness and response to insurance and recovery planning.
It involves predictions, reviews and regular updates by national meteorological services in the Caribbean, United States and now increasingly even the UK’s Met Office, scientific agencies, and noted hurricane experts.
One of the most recent updates comes from the Hurricane Centre at the University of Arizona dated April 7th.
The University’s ẃeather experts are predicting an active 2023 hurricane season, with 19 named storms, nine hurricanes, and five major hurricanes, especially for the North Atlantic.
They forecast Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures to be the highest since 2010 and even hotter than 2020. However, there could be some weather mitigating factors which “should help bring down hurricane activities.”
In their projection, forecasters Kyle Davis and Xubin Zeng of the Department of Hydrologic and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona say “It will be an interesting battle between the two sides this summer.”
Davis and Zeng will update their prediction in early June.
Meanwhile, in another overview, Tropical Storm Risk(TSR) originally expected the season to be 15 per cent below average with 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. However, in an updated pre-season prediction released on April 6th, TSR slightly reduced its December forecast, adjusting the numbers to 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.
Other climate scientists have also suggested that early signs indicate the Gulf Coast could see fewer hurricanes this year as climate patterns turn less favourable for storm development in the Atlantic Ocean.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes that for more than two years, a 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 expect that in a few months the climate pendulum could swing the other way.
“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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Instead, it makes for a busier cyclone season in the Pacific.”
Jon Gottschalck of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center notes that for now, the hemisphere has entered a neutral transitional period.
“This change has increased chances for a switch to a true El Nino phase by late summer for the first time since 2018, though it’s not guaranteed. Even though we’re favouring the potential development of El Niño as we go into the summer and early fall, it’s by no means a certainty,” he said.
NOAA will release its outlook for the 2023 hurricane season on May 25th.
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th.