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NOAA announces its 2023 Atlantic hurricane season forecast

Hurricane Ian prior to Florida hit (Credit: WPDE)
Hurricane Ian prior to Florida hit (Credit: WPDE)
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, announced its seasonal hurricane forecast Thursday morning.

NOAA is calling for a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season with 12-17 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, and 1-4 major hurricanes with winds reaching 111 mph or greater. An average hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

RELATED: Colorado State University announced its 2023 Atlantic Basin seasonal hurricane forecast in early April.

One factor that may play into the NOAA's forecast is the return of El Nino during the peak of hurricane season.

The El Niño-southern oscillation (ENSO) is the link between climate patterns and the sea surface temperatures and surface pressures in the tropical Pacific which can influence weather patterns across the globe.

El Nino usually suppresses hurricane development, because it creates stronger wind shear across the tropical Atlantic and increases the strength of the subtropical high. While this doesn't mean we are in the clear for the upcoming hurricane season, it is a good sign. The potential for an El Niño phase during the busiest time of the season, August to October, may help keep the Atlantic waters less active.

However, an above-normal West African monsoon, which produces tropical waves, and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which fuels storm activity, could offset El Nino's potential influence on storm development.

Hurricane season averages changed with the new 30-year climate normal in 2021. The 2021 and 2022 seasons were both near to above average. La Niña was in place, which could have had an influence on those numbers as wind shear and atmospheric stability decreased across the Tropical Atlantic.

It's important to not focus too much on these numbers as you prepare for hurricane season. Even a below-average season can deliver a dangerous and life-threatening storm to the United States.

RELATED: Subtropical storm formed in January, first storm of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season

The first name on our list this year is Arlene, followed by Bret. We will also see a few new names this season. The National Hurricane Center rotates and recycles its name lists every 6 years. The 2023 season's name list was last used during the 2017 season.

The World Meteorological Organization retired Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate after the 2017 season because the four storms were either so deadly or costly. These four names have been replaced with Harold, Idalia, Margot, and Nigel for the 2023 season.

In total, the 2022 hurricane season produced 14 named storms, eight hurricanes, and two major hurricanes with winds reaching 111 mph or greater. Fiona and Ian were retired by the World Meteorological Organization. Farrah and Idris will replace these names for the 2028 Hurricane season.

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What can you do now to prepare for hurricane season? Go ahead and start creating your hurricane kit and perform an insurance checkup.

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