Hurricane Forecast Could Mean Trouble for Louisiana, Gulf Coast
LOUISIANA (KPEL News) - While early forecasts for the hurricane season suggested the Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast may see a more relaxed hurricane season, a university team that accurately predicted the last two hurricane seasons says 2023 could be anything but.
The forecast team at the University of Arizona released its hurricane season forecast this week, and it's predicting a season similar to 2017. That's the year that produced Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Since 2014, hurricane activity has been accurately predicted by a model created by Xubin Zeng, UArizona professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences, and his former graduate student Kyle Davis.
"We are not expecting this to be as damaging as 2017," Zeng said. That said, he emphasized that "people should get prepared."
"This will be a very active hurricane season. That's our message," said Zeng, adding that the East Coast and Gulf Coast are typically the regions where hurricanes have the greatest impacts.
Zeng and his team are predicting nine storms this year, with up to five of them being major storms.
According to Zeng, this year is "particularly interesting," because there will be a fight between two big ocean basins thanks to the rising eastern Pacific Ocean surface temperature,
"We expect a good, nice El Niño to come back after a few years of La Niña," Zeng said in the University's release.
Earlier this year, the University of Colorado released its prediction, which called for a calmer hurricane season.
Part of the logic behind their prediction is the emergence of El Nino, which would normally reduce activity in the Atlantic. But according to Zeng, it's more complicated.
This year, due to the activity of El Niño, or the warm phase, less hurricane activity would be expected over the North Atlantic.
But at the same time, the ocean surface temperature over the Atlantic this year will also be very warm, and that tends to increase hurricane activities, Zeng added.
The forecasting team is not yet certain which ocean basin will be the "winner" in the battle and will update its predictions in June.
The bottom line from both forecasts, though: Be prepared for whatever may come. These forecasts can change, and you never really know how a storm is going to act until it starts forming.
Named Storms in 2023
The list of names used for storms is rotated every year. This year's storm names are Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harold, Idalia, Jose, Katia, Lee, Margot, Nigel, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, and Whitney.
The hurricane season officially beings on June 1, but it often takes a while for major storms to develop in the Atlantic and impact the Gulf Coast. There is always the potential for named storms to develop before the official start of the season, as we have seen in recent years, but the development of El Nino is likely to impact any chances of that.