May 15, 2023 - Climate

Atlantic hurricane season is fast approaching

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The National Hurricane Center starts issuing regular updates today for the Atlantic hurricane season, even though the season doesn’t officially start until June 1.

Why it matters: Storms have been forming earlier in recent years, and a committee at the National Hurricane Center is looking at extending the official dates for hurricane season.

Driving the news: The first storm of the season already formed in January.

  • Hurricane forecasters confirmed this month that a subtropical storm formed off the east coast months ago.
  • But, they didn't give it the first name of the season, which will be Arlene.

The big picture: Climate researchers at Colorado State University predict the Atlantic hurricane season will churn out 13 named storms this year.

Flashback: The 2022 season produced 14 named storms, with none making landfall in Louisiana. The story was quite different in 2021, which produced 21 named storms, including Hurricane Ida.

Threat level: Systems can form any time, but historically the most active period for strong storms in the Gulf of Mexico is August and September. But, Mother Nature can do anything she wants, so now is a good time to get prepared.

Of note: Other storm names this season include Emily, Franklin, Lee and Tammy. See the full list.

Our thought bubble: Axios senior climate reporter Andrew Freedman writes ...

  • The subtropical storm was a remarkable outlier, and it formed over unusually warm Atlantic waters.
  • The trend toward more tropical cyclones forming at the margins, away from where these storms typically prowl, is tied in part to climate change, which is making northern and northeastern parts of the Atlantic more hospitable.
  • Another factor is improved satellite observations, which allows meteorologists to spot each storm.

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