WASHINGTON (7News) — Colorado State University has released its first outlook for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season.
The outlook calls for a slightly below-average number of named storms, which includes tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes.
The Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU is expecting 13 named storms, including six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
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The official start date of the season is June 1. However, a shifting climate pattern in the eastern Pacific is helping the scientists at CSU conclude that fewer storms than in the last few seasons are likely.
After a few years of La Niña—the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern, the pattern was officially declared over in March.
Instead of a period of a neutral phase, the Climate Prediction Center has already issued an El Niño watch.
Above-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have already been observed and became more apparent in the western and far eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. The Climate Prediction Center predicts warming water temperatures off of the South American coast over the next several months.
How intense the El Niño phase will become is still uncertain, but it is likely the phase will begin affecting weather patterns by the fall and into winter.
Unlike La Niña, El Niño's effects on the Atlantic hurricane season typically decreases tropical activity due to increased wind shear, a feature in the atmosphere that hinders tropical development.
It's not a guarantee that the upcoming season will not be active, but the climate pattern shifting is a good indication that there will be fewer than-average storms.