COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WGHP) — The nation’s leading hurricane tracking and research experts have revealed their forecast for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the prediction during a news conference Thursday morning at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Maryland.

NOAA Under Secretary of Commerce Rick Spinrad said that NOAA’s prediction leans towards a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season with a 40% chance that the season sticks within the usual range. There is a 30% chance of an above-normal hurricane season and a 30% chance of a below-normal hurricane season.

NOAA predicts 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine hurricanes with maximum winds of at least 74 miles per hour and one to four major hurricanes of a category 3 or above with winds of at least 111 miles per hour.

Three consecutive years of a La Niña pattern have meant less hurricane activity in the central and eastern Pacific basins and more in the Atlantic basin.

In 2022, there were 14 named storms, including three that hit the United States. The names Fiona and Ian were both retired after pummeling Puerto Rico, in the case of Fiona, and southeastern Florida, in the case of Ian. Hurricanes, in 2022, caused billions of dollars in damage, according to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Dawn Graves.

While the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30, the Atlantic has already recorded its first system. The National Hurricane Center said in a news release, “A subtropical storm formed in the Atlantic basin in mid-January 2023. … This subtropical storm is being numbered as the first cyclone of 2023 in the Atlantic basin.” 

While the mid-January subtropical storm was the first cyclone of 2023 in the Atlantic basin, it was not named. If the next system begins as a tropical depression, the NHC says, “it would be tropical depression two, and, if it becomes a tropical storm, it would be given the name Arlene.” 

North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University revealed its forecast on April 12, predicting as many as eight hurricanes in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season.

NC State forecasters believe there will be 11 to 15 named storms, six to eight hurricanes and two to three major hurricanes.

The university says this forecast falls within the “normal” range for the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.

NC State’s named-storm prediction was more conservative than NOAA’s, which called for 12 to 17. The university’s prediction for hurricanes and major hurricanes fell within NOAA’s broader forecast of five to nine hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes.

Looking back at data from 1951 to 2022, NC State reports that the Atlantic basin, including the entire Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, has seen an average of 11 named storms each season. When you narrow that scope to just 1991 to 2020, however, the average has risen to 14 named storms.

NC State Professor of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Science Lian Xie says that data places the 2023 forecast on the higher end of the long-term average but on the lower end of more recent averages.

Xie says the Gulf portion of the Atlantic basin is likely to see about three to five of the Atlantic’s 11 to 15 named storms. One to three of them may become hurricanes, and either none or one may become a major hurricane. Historically, the Gulf usually sees three named storms and one hurricane.

National Hurricane Center

The National Hurricane Center released its first tropical outlook of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season on May 15, a 7-day forecast of activity in the tropics.

The NHC will release new tropical outlooks every six hours from May 15 through Nov. 30. In the past, the NHC has released five-day outlooks. However, this year, the tropical outlooks will be extended to seven days. The reason is to give more warning on potential tropical storms. 

Based on a 30-year climate period from 1991 to 2020, the National Hurricane Center says an average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.