Colorado State University meteorologist breaks down 2023 hurricane outlook

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (WMBF) - As the days continue to count down to hurricane season, Colorado State University’s outlook gives some insight as to what to expect during the summer months.

FIRST ALERT | Colorado State releases 2023 hurricane season outlook

The forecast calls for a slightly below-average season with 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

“So just a little bit below normal and it is really a push-pull,” said Phil Klotzbach, a member of the CSU Tropical Weather and Climate Research team who helps forecast the storms out in the Atlantic.

Klotzbach also explained why the forecast is calling for fewer storms than normal.

“So we have lightly a robust El Niño developing this summer and fall,” he said. “And when El Niño develops, that’s warmer than normal waters in the central-eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. That tends to increase winds high up in the atmosphere. In the Atlantic Ocean, that tears apart hurricanes. However, the tropical Atlantic and the subtropical Atlantic, especially the eastern and central part are much warmer than normal. Right now, that tends to be more conducive for hurricane season because the warm waters provide more fuel for the storms and also generally associate with the more unstable atmosphere.”

He added that it remains to be seen how exactly strong El Niño will get and how warm the Atlantic Ocean gets.

The forecast will also be fine-tuned even further as the calendar turns to September and October.

“So we’re going to be focusing a lot on basically what’s the forcing for this one Niño, do we get the wind patterns that we need to really amp this on Niño? We’ll also be monitoring what’s going on in the Atlantic in addition to the water temperatures are. What are the pressures like? Are they falling? Are they lower than normal? What’s the wind starting to look like, too? We can start to look at like wind shear in June and July, and that’s a pretty good predictor for what happens during the peak months of the season.”

As for a storm making landfall in the Carolinas, the CSU forecast calls for an average chance in the coming season.

“Busier seasons tend to have more landfalls,” said Klotzbach. “So yeah, on average it’s about a one in three chance that a storm pass has been 50 miles of South Carolina.”

Stay with WMBF News for updates.