Experts predict ‘average’ Atlantic hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be strong storms
"In any season, it only takes one storm to make the season impactful.”
The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season was among the most damaging and deadly in modern history, but that isn’t necessarily an indicator for 2023. According to Virginia Tech meteorologist Stephanie Zick most seasonal forecasts are predicting a near average season, which goes from June 1 to November 30.
NOAA’s outlook predicts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, with numbers similar to last year. While the total number of named storms may be “average” this season, Zick expects to see a higher than average number of storms going through rapid intensification - similar to Hurricane Ian from 2022 - due to the above average sea surface temperatures. “There is a developing El Niño, which generally leads to above average wind shear that hinders hurricane development and there are above average sea surface temperatures, and generally supports more hurricane development,” Zick explained.
She stressed that people who live in coastal areas should make preparations now – before a storm hits. “At the coast, the threat is usually the greatest due to higher winds and storm surge flooding,” Zick explained. “Before a storm makes landfall, there is also a higher risk of dangerous surf and rip currents.”
Flooding from the rain is possible near the coast, but also inland as the storm moves. “In the past ten years, flooding has caused the most fatalities in landfalling tropical systems,” Zick said.
Tornadoes are possible, both near the coast and inland. “The hazards associated with tropical storms can occur hundreds of miles aways from the storm center,” Zick said. “Residents in coastal and inland locations need to stay tuned to local weather information before and during these events to be prepared and take action if and when necessary.”
Zick stressed that during hurricane season, context is important. “A weather app can tell you there is a 100 percent chance of rain, but it won’t tell you about the flooding threat or what to do when there is a simultaneous threat of tornadoes and flooding.”
“Trusted sources can provide valuable information that you will need to keep your family and property safe,” she said. “I recommend that you have a trusted local weather source, such as a local broadcast meteorologist who you watch on TV or follow on Twitter.”
Zick said it’s important that no matter where you live, you know your risks, have an emergency plan and put together an emergency kit.
The National Weather Service has further information about emergency kits, emergency plans, and other hurricane safety measures: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan.
Stephanie Zick is an assistant professor of geography in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. Her research areas include tropical meteorology, tropical cyclones, precipitation, numerical weather prediction, and model forecast verification.
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