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Wildcards for Atlantic hurricane season

Published on June 1st, 2023

George Day offers the outlook in the Cruising Compass for what to expect this season:

With the official northern hemisphere hurricane season starting June 1, we’ve been hearing and reading a lot about forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other research groups for what the summer and fall portend.

The early forecast from NOAA has been for a normal hurricane season with 12 to 17 named tropical storms and 5 to 9 hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico.

But there are two wildcards complicating the forecast: a hotter Atlantic and a new El Nino in the South Pacific.

Globally, sea surface temperatures are off the charts; hot water is a key fuel firing up tropical storms and this year there is plenty of that fuel to burn where hurricanes form. This suggests storms may well be stronger and of longer duration than normal.

The El Nino is a huge pool of hot water in the eastern south Pacific and when one forms it usually creates a dampening effect on storms in the tropical Atlantic by increasing vertical wind shear over the tropics that tends to block tropical waves from building into storms.

So, as we start the season, the hot Atlantic and El Nino will be battling it out and it is our hope El Nino wins. To check out NOAA’s report, click here.

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