The first outlook for the 2023 Hurricane Season was released today by Dr. Philip Klotzbach and his forecast team at Colorado State University (CSU). They are predicting a slightly below average number of named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
The team noted that there is a relatively high chance of an El Nino which leads to increased wind shear across the Tropical Atlantic Basin, and that tears apart hurricanes. They also stressed that there is more uncertainty than normal with this outlook.
El Nino is the warm phase of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific, the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The cold phase is La Nina, and we are currently exiting this phase. These phases do not cause weather events, but influence global climate patterns which would increase or decrease the chance for a weather event.
They also noted that there are above average sea surface temperatures across the tropical and subtropical Atlantic. That tends to allow for weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic, and that leads to the water staying warm for the peak of the hurricane season in September.
The forecast is based off an early April extended range statistical model using 25 to 40 years of past data. It takes into account current global observations and past events that match what is happening now. So far, the 2023 hurricane season is exhibiting characteristics similar to 1969, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Dr. Klotzbach said, “Our analog seasons exhibited a wide range of outcomes from below-normal seasons to hyperactive seasons.” He goes on to say, “This highlights the large uncertainty that exists with this outlook.”
The CSU team will issue forecast updates on June 1, July 6 and August 3.