US meteorologists predict near-normal ’23 Atlantic hurricane season
HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which could see 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes.
NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center said on Thursday that the hurricane season, which starts on 1 June and runs through 30 November, has a 40% chance to be near-normal, a 30% chance of being above-normal, and a 30% chance of being below-normal.
A storm is named once it has sustained winds of 39 miles/hour (63 km/hour).
The upcoming Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be less active than recent years, due to competing factors – some that suppress storm development and some that fuel it – driving this year’s overall forecast for a near-normal season, the NOAA said.
NOAA scientists predict a high probability of an El Nino developing this summer.
El Nino is a weather pattern that tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity because it increases upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.
El Nino’s potential influence on storm development could be offset by favourable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin, the NOAA said, including 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.
Forecasters predict one to four of the storms could be major hurricanes.
Hurricanes are rated using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, numbered from 1 to 5, based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speeds, with a Category 5 storm being the strongest.
|Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale|
Hurricanes and tropical storms can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, because many of the nation’s plants and refineries are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that in 2021, offshore oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 15% of total US crude oil production, and about 2% of total dry natural gas production.
Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas supplies because companies often evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution.
The 2022 hurricane season was near-average and less than what was originally forecast.
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