TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — We’re officially past the halfway mark of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, but that doesn’t mean we’re done seeing storms.
Colorado State University Senior Research Scientist and renowned hurricane specialist Dr. Phil Klotzbach told WFLA.com there have already been about 70% more named storms than the whole season average dating back to 1961.
Dr. Klotzbach has gained notoriety since becoming the lead author of Colorado State University’s Seasonal Hurricane Forecasts in 2006. The forecasts have become a primary source for hurricane season predictions behind the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) due to their accuracy and reliability.
“This year has been a challenging year to forecast, but at least as of now, the forecast that CSU issued and a lot of other groups issued look to be tracking fairly well, and that it does look pretty likely we are going to have an above-normal hurricane season,” Dr. Klotzbach said
CSU’s latest hurricane forecast, released Aug. 3, predicted a total of 18 named storms, nine hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. The figures were in line with NOAA’s calls for an “above-normal” 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.
NOAA cited unusually warm sea surface temperatures which are “likely to counterbalance the usually limiting” effects of the ongoing El Nino event. However, researchers did not expect this hurricane season to bring record-high sea surface temperatures and record-low wind shear, enabling storms like Hurricane Lee to rapidly intensify into major hurricanes.
When asked to describe the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season in one word, Dr. Klotzbach said, “Unprecedented — Not in terms of the levels of seasonal activity, but the fact that we have a moderate to strong El Nino with a record warm Atlantic. We just haven’t had that combination before, so in that perspective, this really is uncharted territory. We’ve had warm Atlantics, we’ve had El Nino’s, but not really the two in combination.”
While Dr. Klotzbach said his team at CSU publishes a seasonal forecast, they’re “really looking at is, overall, does the environment look it’s going to be more or less conducive for a busy season? So will the shear be low, will the waters be warm — things along those lines.”
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