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2023 Hurricane Season was more active than normal. Find out why.

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 17:09:01-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The 2023 Hurricane season is coming to an end this Thursday.

The season saw 20 named storms, which ranks 4th for the most-named storms in a year since 1950. Such a busy season is not something we typically see during an El Nino. This is a topic that researchers at NOAA Climate Prediction Center will be looking further into as the 2023 season comes to a close.

"It was an above normal season, which is very abnormal during an El Niño year," said Dr. Matthew Rosencrans, Lead Hurricane Forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

He says while we did see the typical El Nino wind shear and dry air weather pattern, we also saw record warm ocean temperatures.

"The warm sea surface temperatures, which were record warm during most of the year, really counterbalanced and even counteracted the influence of El Niño out there," said Dr. Rosencrans.

Dr. Rosencrans thinks we saw the effects of the El Nino other ways.

"One of things we are going to dig into is we had 20 named storms, but only 7 hurricanes,” said Rosencrans. “The ratio is a little bit low. So, that's where we might be seeing the impacts of the El Niño, rather than the sea surface temperatures kind of completely overwhelming the entire system."

But with a warming planet, the effects of El Nino could be changing as well.

"Patterns of temperature and precipitation, during a climate change environment, where they are going to change every year now,” said Dr. Rosencrans. “They aren't going to be exactly the same as in the past. So, understanding and predicting those is going to be a continuing challenge"

And for those wondering if we are seeing more storms now due to climate change, Dr. Rosencrans says that as well as better technology has led to an average of 2 more named storms per year.

"We take very carefully the analysis of that data to either account for that or de-trend for that,” said Dr. Rosencrans. “We can do that math. If we had that technology in 1985, would we have seen those two more named storms."

And while the season is ending, the work at the CPC will go on. Forecasters will look back on the 2023 season over the next few months to see what they can learn, and they'll take that knowledge into the next seasonal hurricane forecast, which will be released in May.