MIAMI -- Hurricane Season is officially underway and the 2023 Season forecast from NOAA calls for a near-average season with 12-17 names storms, five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes.
So what does this actually mean and what should we do differently?
My answer is always the same.
Let me explain.
Tropical seasonal forecasts are not only difficult but if 2022 taught us anything is that they can be wrong and full of surprises.
July and August saw one of the longest stretches without a named storm and then . . . Ian.
So while the forecasted hyperactive season never came, one of the deadliest and destructive storms to ever hit Florida did.
I think what most of us want to hear is this: No we will not get hit by a hurricane this year because El Niño will protect us.
Wouldn't that be something?!
Perhaps well into the future we can have that certainty and the data to back it up. But this is 2023 and we simply don't.
So like every season, we don't know what we don't know.
But, that doesn't mean we can't get ready.
Preparing is the key to surviving a storm and minimizing its damage to our property. Because even a perfect seasonal hurricane forecast doesn't stop an Ian.
Before I get into why I think this season will be difficult to nail down I want to talk about the other threat these storms bring even when they don't hit.
For those of us who have gone through a hurricane, the emotional toll they can take can make June 1 a dreaded day.
But we're in Florida, the threat of hurricanes is just part of living here and it's a big part. The season is half the year but we shouldn't spend those months living in fear.
The fear of these storms is understandable but often comes from the uncertainty they can bring. And until we perfect these forecasts this uncertainty will remain.
What I think can make it easier to bear is simply knowing how you will respond. Get as specific as possible. Have an attack plan. Stay on offense. Plan it out and in doing so it could help supply your emotional arsenal so you can take back the control these storms can often take from us.
Now, let's talk about El Niño.
Yes it's the warming of the equatorial Pacific waters. Yes it can cause a disruption in the normal global weather pattern that results in strong winds in the western Atlantic basin.
Yes this is good for us and bad for hurricanes.
But it is only one of many signals we look for to determine what the season may bring. It is not however the only one.
You'll often hear us talk about warm ocean waters and how they fuel hurricanes.
Well right now we are seeing not just warm water but record warm water temperatures in the typical hurricane breeding grounds.
This in part is due to our changing climate.
These warm waters would not just favor tropical development but it would sustain any storm that develops and could result, if other ingredients are present, in a rapidly intensifying system.
There are many other signals we look at along with past seasons to again try and get a better seasonal forecast but like season's before this one, each is different and there are always variables which we either under or over estimate
I was at FSU when hurricane Andrew hit us, the "A" storm in late August! A quiet season which violently awoke. It was also an El Niño season. Andrew came anyway.
So as you see we have mixed signals this season.
There are factors that could result in fewer storms but perhaps more intense ones.
So while we wait to see what this year brings, you will hear a lot of noise and predictions.
Some will be based on the best data we have and some from social media armchair experts. My advice is to focus on having your plan ready and turning to our experienced Next Weather team to help guide you step by step on what to do and when whatever comes our way
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