Breaking News
More () »

How the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season will be different than past years

Forecasters have a new storm surge tool this year and will extend tropical weather outlooks to seven days.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the Atlantic Basin, the hurricane season lasts from June 1 until Nov. 30. Nearly all tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic during that time period. Only one day into the season, Tropical Storm Arlene became the first named storm of the 2023 season. The peak of the season in the Atlantic typically takes place from mid-August to mid-October. 

When it comes to 2023, El Niño returns, which is the natural temporary warming of the Pacific every few years. El Niño can strengthen hurricanes in the Pacific Basin but tends to weaken hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Basin. This will be working against warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures and an active west African monsoon which tends to increase the number of storms in the Atlantic.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

The National Hurricane Center has been testing a storm surge tool over the last few years, which becomes operational in 2023. Storm surge is the wall of water that a hurricane can push onto the land. Storm surge often is the most deadly part of a hurricane as it can cause people to evacuate the area. The NHC hopes this will give residents more time to evacuate, which could help save lives.

"It gives you kind of that color-coded segments along the coast for what kind of storm surge ranges you might have," Robbie Berg, acting chief hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, told WCNC Charlotte Meteorologist Brittany Van Voorhees. "I think it's a pretty easy way to just get a general view of what kind of storm surge might occur in that particular storm."

🌩️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their Emmy Award-winning Weather IQ YouTube channel. 🎥

Another addition is the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will get real-time storm surge forecasts when a storm is in the area -- something that wasn't available before.

In addition, tropical weather outlooks have been extended from five days out to seven days, providing a bigger heads up for residents to make decisions about whether to evacuate in advance of a storm, Berg said.

Forecasters are predicting a “near-normal” season, but Mike Brennan, the new director at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, stressed during a late-May news conference that there's really nothing normal when it comes to hurricanes.

“A normal season might sound good in comparison to some of the hurricane seasons in the past few years,” he said. “But there's nothing good about a near-normal hurricane season in terms of activity.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted in late May a 40% chance of 2023 being a near-normal hurricane season, a 30% chance of an above-average season, which has more storms than usual, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season, which has fewer.

“So we're expecting a busy season with 12 to 17 named storms,” Brennan said, adding that five to nine of those storms could become hurricanes, with one to four growing into major hurricanes.

“It only takes one storm affecting your area to make it a busy season for you,” he said.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

Brennan noted there are other factors that add to the uncertainty of the effects of El Niño, such as very warm sea surface temperatures, weaker low-level easterly flows and a more active African monsoon season.

“So these forces are going to kind of fight it out over the course of this hurricane season,” Brennan said. “We don't know how this season's going to play out.”

FEMA Director Deanne Criswell said her agency is working to protect residents in hurricane zones by getting them the “critical information that they need" and making it easier for people to apply for help.

⏯ Subscribe to WCNC Charlotte on YouTube to be notified of new videos  

She said the summer doesn't just bring the start of hurricane season, but it's also the beginning of wildfire season.

“So we are in the summer season of severe weather events, but I think as many of you know, it's not just a summer season of severe weather anymore,” she said, noting weather-related events take place throughout the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wake Up Charlotte To Go is a daily news and weather podcast you can listen to so you can start your day with the team at Wake Up Charlotte.  
SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || TuneIn || Google Podcasts   

All of WCNC Charlotte's podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out