BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - WITH less than one week away, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted “a near-normal” period for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
The prediction was revealed at a press briefing yesterday (May 25), where forecasters gave the “near-normal hurricane activity” outlook for the Atlantic this year.
According to NOAA’s outlook, the June 1 to November 30 timeline was predicted to have a “40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season”.
That comes as the US-based agency forecasts between 12 to 17 named storms - with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of that number, NOAA predicts five to nine could become hurricanes - those with wind speed of 74 mph or higher-, “including one to four major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher)”.
“NOAA has a 70% confidence in these ranges,” the organisation said.
So why the prediction?
The weather monitoring body explained that there are a number of factors that contributed to the outlook, including several that “suppress storm development and some that fuel it”.
“After three hurricane seasons with La Nina present, NOAA scientists predict a high potential for El Nino to develop this summer, which can suppress Atlantic hurricane activity. El Nino’s potential influence on storm development could be offset by favorable 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,” NOAA explained in a statement.
Meanwhile, Administrator at the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Deanne Criswell reminded that it only takes one storm to cause damage and upend lives, referencing the damage caused to Florida in September last year.
“As we saw with Hurricane Ian, 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.”
In the case of the Caribbean, officials are reminding of the threat and expectations for the season. They are also reminding that it only takes heavy rainfall to cause damage and land slippage, and as a result they are urging all to be on guard.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) will be hosting a press conference on June 2, the beginning of the season, where its Executive Director will engage with the media.