US authorities increase forecast for 'above normal' hurricane season

US authorities increase forecast for 'above normal' hurricane season

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to 5 hurricanes

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Forecasters increased Thursday the official number of hurricanes they expect to hit the US in 2023, warning this season is expected to be "above normal" amid record ocean water temperatures.

The US is currently in the midst of the hurricane season, which runs from June through the end of November, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had previously predicted a near-normal level of activity to take place due in part to the El Nino system in the Pacific Ocean, which has historically tamped down hurricane activity.

But record-high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have led forecasters to increase their forecast, which now anticipates 14 - 21 named storms, including six to 11 hurricanes. Between two to five could become major hurricanes, NOAA said, emphasizing it has roughly 70% confidence in its forecast.

This year, North Atlantic sea temperatures were recorded at the highest levels seen since records began in 1950.

NOAA's prediction includes the five named storms and one hurricane that have already transpired. The prediction does not take into account if a storm will make landfall, which forecasters can only determine within roughly a week of a storm hitting a coastline.

If sea surface temperatures continue to be at or near records, the number of storms and hurricanes could be more likely to hit the upper end of official estimates, Matthew Rosencrans, the lead hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told reporters.

But he noted that "the ongoing El Nino potentially competing with local conditions in the Atlantic increased the uncertainty in the outlook."

Asked if the increased activity should prompt individuals in affected areas to worry, Rosencrans said: "I don't think people should worry about the forecast. I think people should prepare for the storms that this forecast implies."

"Thinking those things through now, getting some supplies now, is much easier than when there's a rush on supplies in the last couple of days when you're under the time crunch to make decisions, prepare things," he said.

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