From extreme heat to catastrophic flooding, the summer of 2023 has brought some pretty extraordinary weather to people all across the country. Can the same be said for hurricane season?
Atlantic hurricane season preview
When the Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project first extended range estimate came out on April 13, 2023, it predicted average activity for the Atlantic hurricane season. However, the researchers now forecast above-average activity in the form of:
18 named storms.
4 major hurricanes.
The most recent update from CSU now anticipates:
- 13 named storms.
- 8 hurricanes.
- 4 major hurricanes.
Predictions from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters indicate a “near-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season” with:
12 to 17 named storms.
5 to 9 hurricanes.
1 to 4 major hurricanes.
Both teams based their original predictions on a shift to an El Niño cycle, which often produces below-normal hurricane seasons. But now the CSU researchers believe the abnormally warm Atlantic may minimize some of El Niño’s effect. CSU plans to issue updates on August 3.
How is this hurricane season compared to last year?
The current predictions from the CSU team are pretty close to what it anticipated for the 2022 season. Last year, CSU predicted 19 named storms and 9 hurricanes, with four major ones. The big difference is in the number of named storms, which dropped to just 13 in the August update.
These predictions were slightly off from the 2022's final hurricane count: 14 named storms, eight total hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.
More hurricanes for the northern U.S.?
Another interesting statistic from CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project: Just 40 years ago, only 12% of hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions hit these states. Now about 16% are expected to make landfall in the northern US each year.
The statistic appears to jibe with a recent study published in Nature Geoscience that predicts more storms will reach midlatitude regions, or areas located between 30° and 60° latitude. This means cities that don’t often see named storms, like New York, Boston, and Baltimore, may need to prepare for hurricanes.
Hurricanes and climate change
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), scientists haven’t connected the dots between the number of hurricanes and climate change. But the data does suggest that rising sea levels and surface temperatures mean we are likely in for more intense hurricanes.
Climate change might also be the reason more cities outside of the traditional hurricane zone are experiencing more storms. According to C2ES, hurricanes’ migration towards both poles may be the result of rising global temperatures. Plus, the lead author of the Nature Geoscience study stated in a press release that this shift as “an important, under-estimated risk of climate change.”
How to prepare for hurricane season 2023
The key to preparing for any potential problem is knowing your chance of experiencing a hurricane. This may be even more important now as more cities appear to have increased hurricane risk.
Once you understand if you’re likely to see a hurricane, you can develop a plan to help you weather the storm. For example, you want to prepare a hurricane plan that includes steps like:
Drawing up an evacuation route.
Putting together an evacuation kit.
Purchasing essential supplies if you need to shelter in place.
You also want to think about ways you can make your home more resilient, such as buying hurricane shutters or trimming tree branches. Josh Skolnick of Mighty Dog Roofing recommends taking the time to “regularly check and maintain your roof as a preemptive measure.” Doing this can minimize your chances of suffering water damage.
Another part of your hurricane preparedness plan is to review your home insurance policy to make sure you have the hurricane coverage you need. Home insurance, for example, often covers damage caused by hurricane winds, but water damage from an external source is usually excluded. This may mean you need flood insurance as well.