Due to current ocean and atmospheric conditions, such as record-warm sea surface temperatures, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center—a division of the National Weather Service—has increased their prediction for the ongoing 2023 Atlantic hurricane season to an “above normal” level of activity from a “near normal” level with their most recent update.
The outlook now includes a 70% chance of 14-21 named storms, of which 6-11 could become hurricanes, and 2-5 could become major hurricanes. The updated outlook also states that current conditions are likely to counterbalance the usually limiting atmospheric conditions associated with the ongoing El Niño event.
Although cyclone formation can occur any time of the year, the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, when most tropical cyclones tend to form in the Atlantic.
The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season began surprisingly early on January 16, when the National Hurricane Center issued a special tropical weather outlook for a low-pressure system north of Bermuda. This system became an unnamed subtropical storm southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, which made landfall on January 17 near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia before dissipating over eastern Quebec the next day.
Then, on the first official day of hurricane season, a tropical depression formed off the west coast of Florida, over the Gulf of Mexico on June 1. This strengthened into Tropical Storm Arlene the following day, bringing several inches of rainfall across South Florida before dissipating north of Cuba.
Later that month, Tropical Storm Bret formed on June 19, east of the southern Windward Islands. It intensified as it headed toward the Lesser Antilles. It passed north of Barbados and directly over St. Vincent before the then weakening storm passed north of Aruba.
Around the same time, a tropical depression was forming east of the Lesser Antilles, which became a tropical depression on June 22. It then strengthened into Tropical Storm Cindy on June 23. However, the storm began weakening and dissipated on June 26, north-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands.
Another disturbance near Bermuda formed on July 10 and was classified as Subtropical Storm Don on July 14. This system became one of the longest-lasting on record to traverse the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. It came in fifth, just behind Hurricane Emily in 2005. Don even briefly reached hurricane status—the first of the season—on July 22 before weakening the following day and transitioning to a post-tropical cyclone on July 24.
NOAA satellites will continue monitoring the Nation's weather, including watching for tropical cyclone activity, 24/7. They provide vital information for forecasting hurricanes and monitoring the location, movement and intensity of storms. The GOES-16 (GOES East) and GOES-18 (GOES West) geostationary satellites continuously view the entire Atlantic and eastern/central Pacific hurricane basins to provide real-time tracking and monitoring of tropical cyclones as well as the environmental conditions that cause them to form.
By imaging a storm as often as every 30 seconds, these satellites help forecasters more easily discern the movement of cloud features and provide greater confidence in estimating the center of the storm. GOES-16 and GOES-18 also provide a detailed look at the storm properties of a hurricane, including cloud top cooling, central pressure, and convective structures as well as specific features of a hurricane’s eye, wind estimates, and lightning activity. This information is critical to estimating a storm’s intensity.
The Joint Polar Satellite System’s (JPSS) polar-orbiting satellites, Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20, capture data over each spot on Earth twice a day. They measure the state of the atmosphere by taking precise measurements of sea surface temperatures and atmospheric temperature and moisture, which are critical to securing storm forecasts several days in advance. JPSS instruments provide data that are particularly useful in helping forecasters predict a hurricane’s path 3 to 7 days out.