Written By John Bryant

Hurricane season is officially over, and it was another record-breaking year.

This is not to scare you but to illustrate how we constantly need to be aware and prepared

Farewell 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. Believe it or not, 2023 was extraordinary. This season wasn’t just another entry in meteorological records but a stark reminder of our evolving climate and the increasing challenges in hurricane forecasting. There were several notable nuances to the 2023 season, and it’s possible it’s a sign of things to come in the years ahead.

The 2023 Season: A Record-Breaker

The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season concluded as one of the most active seasons on record. With 20 named storms, including seven hurricanes, it is the 4th most active year on record. The heightened activity is particularly noteworthy to me given the presence of El Niño, typically a weakening factor for Atlantic hurricanes.

US Impact: A Sigh of Relief for Most

The United States witnessed landfalls from three Atlantic storms: Harold, Idalia, and Ophelia. The most significant was Hurricane Idalia, a Category 3 hurricane, marking the strongest storm to hit Florida’s Big Bend region in over a century. This event underscores the need for continued vigilance and preparedness in the face of such unpredictable natural phenomena. Some of the most active Hurricane seasons are misleading.  Because only one hurricane hit the United States mainland, plenty of storms swelled out at sea.

El Niño’s Diminished Role

To me, 2023’s hurricane activity was remarkable, considering El Niño’s usual role in suppressing Atlantic storm development. However, the neutralizing effect of record-high ocean temperatures led to above-average tropical activity, challenging the conventional understanding of El Niño’s influence. At one point, ocean temperatures near Miami were a stunning 100 degrees!

Rapid Intensification: A New Normal? I believe so.

A notable seasonal feature was the rapid intensification observed in several storms. Hurricane Lee’s escalation to a Category 5 hurricane, with an 85 mph increase in wind speed within 24 hours, was absolutely mind-boggling and exemplifies this alarming trend. This phenomenon raises critical questions about our readiness to respond to rapidly changing storm dynamics.

Steering Away from Land: The Role of the Azores High

Interestingly, many storms this season were steered away from land due to the weakened state of the Azores High. This high-pressure system, typically a determinant in the trajectory of Atlantic storms, was less influential this year, a deviation that might have spared many coastal areas from potential devastation.

Looking Ahead: 2024 and Beyond

As we look toward the 2024 hurricane season, I predict a high potential for increased activity, especially with the expected end or at least weaker El Niño. This forecast and the ongoing rise in Sea Surface Temperatures is the basis of my thinking.  The official forecast will come out in May of 2024.

Why the Eastern Pacific was so notable.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season also concluded with significant activity, including Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm and the strongest to hit Mexico. It was a Meteorological marvel, with the storm strengthening from a Tropical Storm into a Category 5 hurricane in less than 2 days, a new record for that period. And not to be forgotten, Southern California was under Tropical Storm Warnings at one time, the first ever on record for the region.

The 2023 hurricane season was more than breaking records: it’s a warning and a call to action. It highlights the urgent need for advanced forecasting techniques, better preparedness strategies, and a deeper understanding of climate change’s impact on weather patterns. As we witness these powerful forces of nature, committing to learning, adapting, and preparing for a future where such seasons might become the norm is essential.

Stay Informed and Prepared

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