May 30, 2023
NOAA predicts 'near-normal' hurricane season
WASHIGNTON - The United States could see up to four major hurricanes this year in what federal officials are predicting will be a “near-normal” hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday released its outlook for the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30.

NOAA forecasters are predicting a 40% chance of a near-normal hurricane season, with 12 to 17 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of those, five to nine storms could become hurricanes, including one to four “major” hurricanes that reach Category 3 or higher with winds of at least 111 mph.

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad warned that people in hurricane zones should not take a near-normal forecast lightly and should prepare now for the upcoming season.

“Remember, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” Spinrad said Thursday at a news conference. “Regardless of the statistics I shared, if one of those named storms is hitting your home, your community, it’s very serious.”

Don Graves, the U.S. deputy secretary of commerce, echoed the need for communities to take precautions ahead of time.

“It’s absolutely crucial that all Americans living in potential paths of these storms, even well inland of the coasts, follow NOAA’s guidance for preparation and determine your risk, develop an evacuation plan and assemble the disaster supplies that you may need if a severe storm strikes,” he said at the news conference.

This year’s forecast was shaped by two competing factors: the anticipated return of El Niño, which usually suppresses storm development, and warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures that normally fuel storms.

El Niño, a naturally occurring climate pattern, influences weather conditions around the world and is characterized by warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. But the phenomenon also increases upper-level winds in the Atlantic that can tear hurricanes apart and disrupt major storms as they are forming.

The interplay between El Niño conditions and warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures will likely drive a less active hurricane season compared to in recent years, according to NOAA.

“It’s kind of like a clash between those two big features,” said Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane season forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell urged people to make preparations now that can save lives when disaster strikes.

“As we saw with Hurricane Ian, it only takes one hurricane to cause widespread devastation and upend lives,” she said in a statement. “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.” (Source: NBC News)
Story Date: May 26, 2023
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