Aug 10, 2023 - Climate

Hurricane season is about to ramp up, forecasters say

A satellite image of a white spiral-shaped storm surrounded by blue.

A satellite image of Hurricane Don, the first hurricane of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. Photo: NOAA

Floridians can expect above-average hurricane activity in the latter — and busier — half of the season, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

Why it matters: With some Floridians still recovering from Hurricane Ian and the state's property insurance market in disarray, another busy storm season doesn't fare well for the Sunshine State.

What they're saying: "We urge you to prepare now for the upcoming core of the hurricane season, as a single storm can have catastrophic impacts," said Matthew Rosencrans of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, during a call with reporters.

How it works: We're in an El Niño year, which usually makes for a more laid-back hurricane season. However, the effects are emerging later than expected, Rosencrans said, and record-high ocean temperatures are hurricane fuel.

By the numbers: The likelihood of an above-average season jumped from 30% in May to 60% heading into the peak months in which 90% of tropical activity occurs, Rosencrans said.

  • That means NOAA is expecting 14 to 21 named storms and six to 11 hurricanes, two to five of which will be major.
  • Five named storms have developed already this season, Rosencrans said.
  • A normal season produces 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major ones.

Yes, but: While this year's sea-surface temperatures are unusually high, the projected number of storms is in line with recent years.

  • Last year there were 14 named storms, 21 in 2021 and 30 in 2020.

The intrigue: The closest analog to this year's projected season is 2004, Rosencrans said. That year, four back-to-back hurricanes ravaged Florida, including Hurricane Charley, which was on track to hit Tampa Bay dead-on before it turned south at the last minute.

Be smart: Storm surge has long been the deadliest threat associated with hurricanes, but new research from the National Hurricane Center found that rainfall from flooding accounted for almost 60% of U.S. hurricane deaths.

  • Every weather event is different, though. Surge remained the biggest killer during Hurricane Ian. Of the 66 deaths attributed to Ian, 41 were due to storm surge in Florida.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more