Why the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season is especially hard to predict

Friday, May 26, 2023 - 16:33 in Earth & Climate

It’s hard to know how busy this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be, thanks to a rarely observed combination of ocean and climate conditions. The Atlantic Ocean is in an active storm era, a yearslong period of increasing storm activity. Plus sea surface temperatures there are much higher than usual this year, which can fuel storms, Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane forecaster for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said May 25 at a news conference. But this year will also see the onset of an El Niño phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation ocean and climate pattern, which tends to suppress hurricane formation. That’s not a scenario that has occurred in historical records often, Rosencrans said. “It’s definitely kind of a rare setup for this year.” He and his colleagues reported that there’s a 40 percent chance that Atlantic hurricane activity will be near normal this year. Near normal is actually...

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