The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its 2023 Atlantic hurricane season predictions, forecasting “near-normal” hurricane activity this year.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year, and the severity of the season is influenced by a variety of global climate patterns. For 2023, two key patterns – El Nino and warmer ocean water temperatures – are working to cancel one another out to moderate the formation of hurricanes.
Near-Normal Hurricane Season Predicted
A “near-normal” season still includes tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes, any of which can influence cruise travel, ports of call, and overall itineraries.
This year, NOAA is predicting 12-17 named storms (winds 39 miles per hour or higher), with 5-9 of them developing into official hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher). Of the hurricanes, 1-4 of them are expected to become major hurricanes of category 3, 4, or 5 (winds of at least 111, 130, or 157 mph, respectively).
While these numbers are a “near-normal” prediction, the confidence in that prediction is only 40%. There is also a 30% probability of a more active than normal season with more storms than expected, as well as a 30% probability of below normal seasonal activity.
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Throughout the season, NOAA and other weather agencies will continually refine and revise their predictions to account for additional global changes and emerging weather conditions that impact tropical storm and hurricane development.
New technological advancements have been made in the past few months to facilitate more accurate storm forecasts, which will help protect communities and allow cruise lines to better plan itineraries to minimize storm impacts.
“Thanks to the Commerce Department and NOAA’s critical investments this year in scientific and technological advancements in hurricane modeling, NOAA will be able to deliver even more accurate forecasts, helping ensure communities have the information they need to prepare for and respond to the destructive economic and ecological impacts of Atlantic hurricanes,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.
Among the advancements are a 20% increase in supercomputing operational capacity for complex storm modeling, better incorporation of retroactive storm data, storm surge model upgrades, new small aircraft drone systems to improve forecast accuracy, and modernization of the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean buoy array to update instrumentation.
Factors Affecting Storm Development in 2023
Warmer than typical surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are likely to increase the formation of larger, stronger, more long-lived storms, particularly as tropical waves form off western Africa.
That strengthening is counterbalanced, however, by the likelihood of an El Nino development which would suppress storm activity and tear storms apart as they approach the Caribbean.
It must be noted that the prediction forecast is not a commentary on storm landfalls or how future hurricanes may impact island, coastal, or inland communities.
It is entirely likely for very strong storms to form well out to sea with very little to no impact on communities or cruise operations, and it is also likely that even weaker storms could have devastating impacts depending on where and when they may hit.
Cruise lines closely monitor all weather patterns that could affect not only ship operations, routes, and itineraries, but also ports of call and homeports, taking all necessary steps to safeguard their passengers, crew members, and vessels.
Cruise guests should always take note of the possibility of severe weather before, during, and after sailing, especially as it may impact their travel to or from a homeport or require adjustments to itineraries.
Remaining flexible is essential during hurricane season, and remember that safety is always the top priority.