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2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Commences: Essential Information

by Madison Thomas
5 comments
2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season officially began this Thursday, signaling the need for residents of the southeastern United States coastlines to finalize their storm preparedness plans.

Though experts are forecasting a “near-normal” hurricane season, Mike Brennan, the recently appointed director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, emphasized in a Wednesday press briefing that the notion of ‘normality’ is deceptive when it comes to hurricane activity.

“A season that appears ‘normal’ might seem benign compared to prior hurricane seasons,” Brennan stated. “However, a ‘near-normal’ level of activity in a hurricane season should not be construed as benign or unthreatening.”

Is the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected to be Active?

Brennan underscored that ‘uncertainty’ is a crucial descriptor for this season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a forecast in late May, indicating a 40% likelihood of a near-normal hurricane season. There’s also a 30% probability of an above-average season featuring a higher number of storms, as well as a 30% chance for a below-average season with fewer storms.

Brennan added, “The expectation is for 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could escalate to hurricane status, with one to four potentially becoming major hurricanes.”

“It takes merely one storm impacting your locale to render the season ‘busy’ for you,” Brennan cautioned.

As if to emphasize the point, Tropical Storm Arlene has already emerged in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is currently directed southward toward the western extremity of Cuba and may dissipate before making landfall.

What Innovations are Introduced this Season?

In a novel approach, the National Hurricane Center is implementing a new storm surge model. According to Brennan, this model “enables the dissemination of real-time storm surge forecasts up to 72 hours ahead of a storm,” aiming to assist emergency managers in making informed decisions on evacuation orders.

Furthermore, tropical weather forecasts have been lengthened from five to seven days, providing residents with more time to evaluate the need for early evacuation.

How Will El Nino Impact the 2023 Season?

El Nino refers to the periodic warming of Pacific Ocean waters, which consequently alters global weather patterns. Generally, El Nino results in reduced Atlantic storm activity due to the resultant wind shears. However, Brennan noted that other variables, including high sea surface temperatures and a more vigorous African monsoon season, could negate El Nino’s effects.

Role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA Director Deanne Criswell elucidated that her agency is focused on disseminating crucial information to residents in hurricane-prone areas and streamlining the process for aid application. She also emphasized that summer marks not only the commencement of hurricane season but also wildfire season, indicating that severe weather events are increasingly becoming a year-round concern.

Naming of Hurricanes and Recent Retirements

The practice of naming hurricanes started in 1953 to mitigate confusion during simultaneous storm events. A list of names for the Atlantic hurricane season rotates every six years. Names are retired by an international committee if a hurricane causes significant loss of life or destruction.

The most recent name to be retired was Ian, a Category 5 hurricane that severely impacted southwest Florida in September 2022, causing widespread devastation and resulting in over 156 fatalities.

Noteworthy Hurricanes in U.S. History

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey are among the most devastating hurricanes to have struck the United States. These hurricanes have caused monumental damage, with Katrina and Harvey ranking as the costliest U.S. hurricanes on record, resulting in losses exceeding $160 billion and $125 billion, respectively.

This article was initially published on May 31, 2023, and updated on June 1, 2023, to amend an error stating that Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season

What does the term “near-normal” hurricane season mean?

The term “near-normal” refers to a hurricane season with storm activity that aligns closely with the long-term average. However, Mike Brennan, the director of the National Hurricane Center, emphasizes that even a ‘near-normal’ season can pose significant risks and should not be considered benign.

Who is Mike Brennan and what role does he play?

Mike Brennan is the newly appointed director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. His role includes providing expert commentary and guidance on hurricane activity, risks, and preparedness measures.

What is the new storm surge model being introduced?

The National Hurricane Center is implementing a new storm surge model that aims to provide real-time storm surge forecasts up to 72 hours ahead of a storm. This model is intended to help emergency managers make more informed decisions about issuing evacuation orders.

How does El Nino affect hurricane activity?

El Nino is a periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean waters that influences weather patterns globally. Typically, El Nino leads to decreased storm activity in the Atlantic due to the resultant wind shears. However, other factors like high sea surface temperatures and a more vigorous African monsoon season could negate El Nino’s effects.

What is FEMA’s role in hurricane preparedness?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is focused on disseminating critical information to residents in hurricane-prone areas and streamlining the process for aid application. FEMA also plays a role in planning and coordinating responses to various severe weather events, including hurricanes and wildfires.

Why are hurricanes named and when are names retired?

Hurricanes are named to avoid confusion when multiple storms are occurring simultaneously. Names are retired by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization if a storm causes significant loss of life or destruction.

What have been some of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the United States?

Among the most devastating are Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which was for years the most expensive and damaging; Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused about 1,400 deaths and extensive damage along the Gulf Coast; and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which resulted in severe flooding and more than 80 fatalities.

What was the most recent hurricane name to be retired?

The most recent name to be retired was Ian, which was a Category 5 hurricane that struck southwest Florida in September 2022, causing widespread devastation and over 156 fatalities.

More about 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season

  • National Hurricane Center
  • NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast
  • FEMA’s Role in Natural Disasters
  • Understanding El Nino
  • History of Naming Hurricanes
  • The Economic Impact of Hurricanes
  • World Meteorological Organization on Retired Hurricane Names
  • The Deadliest U.S. Hurricanes on Record

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5 comments

Mike O'Brien September 8, 2023 - 11:31 pm

el Nino seems so complex. It’s like the weather’s got a mind of its own.

Reply
Emily Roberts September 9, 2023 - 7:53 am

I’ve always wondered why hurricanes have names. Now I know, thx! But retiring names, that’s kinda weird right?

Reply
Tom Jenkins September 9, 2023 - 1:29 pm

FEMA doing their thing as usual. still, I wonder how effective they’ll be this year. fingers crossed.

Reply
John Smith September 9, 2023 - 3:58 pm

Wow, the ‘near-normal’ term is kinda misleading, huh? makes you think everything’s going to be okay, but it’s not really like that.

Reply
Sara Williams September 9, 2023 - 5:25 pm

Good to know about the new storm surge model, can help a lot of ppl make smarter decisions. But will it be accurate enough? Only time will tell.

Reply

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