Hurricane Season 2023 was an unusually active year

The 2023 hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, which concluded yesterday, was one of the most active seasons in recent years. With a total of twenty tropical or subtropical storms, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, the overall activity was twenty percent above average. For the Dutch Caribbean islands, it was a relatively quiet year.

Notably, despite the presence of a strong El Niño – which typically reduces hurricane activity due to increased wind shear – the season was above-average in activity. The record warmth of the Atlantic waters, intensified by climate change, fueled storms and offset the unfavorable effects of El Niño.

Reasons why, just before the hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center predicted a lower-than-normal season, measuring thirteen storms, of which six would become hurricanes and three intense hurricanes. While the latter was accurate, the total number of storms was not thirteen but twenty.

In August, this prediction was adjusted when it was discovered that sea temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean were exceptionally high. Traditionally, September is the most active month in the hurricane season.

The first storm of the year formed in January, well before the official start of the season in June. Hurricane Lee, forming on September 5, explosively intensified into a category 5 hurricane and is one of only six hurricanes to intensify so rapidly in such a short time.

Hurricane Idalia, landing in Florida’s Big Bend in August, brought multiple ‘miniswirls’ ashore, resulting in significant damage. Despite the large number of storms mentioned this year, Idalia was the only hurricane to make landfall in the United States.

The 2023 season offers a lesson on how warm sea surface temperatures can influence tropical weather. With the record warmth in the southern Atlantic Ocean, where hurricanes often originate, storms were triggered to form early in the season.


Looking ahead to the next hurricane season, climate records suggest that El Niño, expected to peak this winter and diminish in spring, is likely not to return. This increases the likelihood of an active season in 2024, especially if La Niña conditions develop.

With the expected continuation of unusually warm temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, 2024 is also anticipated to be an active hurricane season. Although it is impossible to make concrete predictions at this time, many indicators point to another year where coastal and island residents should remain vigilant.

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