ALL forecasts herein are the result of my analysis, (to which you will see me at times, insert excerpts from various agencies due to the nature of the importance of the information) and I am solely responsible for the content. As ALWAYS, follow the National Hurricane Center, National Weather Service, and your local Emergency Management officials for emergency decisions. In addition, this is strictly a FORECAST OFFICE. I CANNOT make decisions regarding travel plans, etc. My purpose, is to provide you the information based solely on information I analyze, and the accuracy of the information at hand of the time of analysis, so you may make informed decisions.
(T. F. “Storm” Walsh)
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I will reiterate, my forecasts are based on the available information at the time of analysis, and are only as accurate as the information analyzed and the solutions provided. Keep in mind, if a forecast doesn’t exactly pan out, remember, the atmosphere is fluid in motion. When models are being analyzed, that’s just one run, and I have to go with what is presented. After that, models don’t update again for another 4 – 6 hours, so, what happens between that time is unknown, and forecast conditions can change slightly, to greatly. This will have an effect on my actual forecast. Unless otherwise noted, satellite imagery is provided through Weathernerds.org
The following was my outlook forecast for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
STORM W SEASONAL FORECAST
TOTAL NAMED STORMS: 14– 16
TOTAL HURRICANES : 5 – 7
MAJOR HURRICANES: 3 – 4
AVERAGE HURRICANE SEASON:
TOTAL NAMED STORMS: 14
TOTAL HURRICANES: 7
MAJOR HURRICANES: 3
NAMED STORMS: 19
MAJOR HURRICANES: 3
The following are the storm names for the 2023 hurricane season. As each storm is named, they will be colored in red in order to keep track of the used names in the list:
Arlene Bret Cindy Don Emily Franklin Gert Harold Idalia Jose Katia
Lee Margot Nigel Ophelia Philippe Rina Sean Tammy Vince Whitney
As a reminder, when forecasting tropical systems, if there are numerous systems to deal with, I always update on the systems that may present an impact or threat to either the U. S. or the Caribbean islands. Anything far out in the Atlantic or something that may re-curve, take a lower priority as there is more time to deal with them. Unless we have a system threatening any area, the forecast office will be closed on the weekends.
I wanted to publish a brief summary of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season to clarify a few things. Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th.
An average hurricane season in general, typically produces 14 named storms, 7 of which become hurricanes, and 3 of those becoming major hurricanes ( 111+ mph). This season produced 19 named storms, 7 of which became hurricanes, with 3 of those becoming major hurricanes. However, during my analysis of each system during the 2023 hurricane season, and utilizing the criteria set forth by the NWS and NHC, these totals were inflated. Based on analysis, the total named storm count should be around 14 – 15. I will explain further on in the summary.
Conditions during the season presented a fairly strong El Nino situation, and a positive IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole). Both of these conditions usually mean a negative signal for hurricane development, as El Nino produces increased wind shear across the Caribbean and MDR, and a positive IOD creates sinking motion over Africa and a portion of the EATL MDR region, which limits tropical wave activity. However, if you look at the SST anomalies 28 day mean charts from June – September, you’ll note we had an extremely warm Atlantic Basin, especially in the MDR. This warmer setup basically negated the negative effects of the El Nino and IOD. Given the anomaly setup in the Pacific, which appears overall cooler than the Atlantic, conditions were more favorable on our side of the world for storm development. We started out slow, as in the beginning of the season, 500 mb anomalies were much higher over the MDR, and lower to the north. This caused the Atlantic to be more stable atmospherically. In order for cloud development to occur and build thunderstorms, the atmosphere must be unstable. As we came closer to Aug., the 500 mb pattern reversed and an uptick in activity occurred.
JUN – SEP 28 DAY SST ANOMALY CHARTS
High Ocean Heat Content (OHC), also known as Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential (TCHP) played an important role in development, especially for major hurricane development. To sustain a major hurricane, the OHC value needs to be 50+ [KJ/cm2]. The following OHC charts are 7 day averages from the peak of the season AUG – SEP:
The following chart shows the vertical instability related to climatology (climatology being the solid black line) for the Atlantic during the 2023 hurricane season. You’ll note the climb in instability beginning around mid Aug:
As far as storm discussion, since I cannot review past satellite imagery of which particular systems should or shouldn’t have been classified, I CAN tell you there were at least 4, possibly 5 systems that should not have been named based on the criteria set forth by the NWS/NHC. For a system to be purely TROPICAL or Sub-Tropical, the following criteria must be met for a system to even be considered a Tropical Cyclone (from the NHC):
Tropical Cyclone: A warm-core non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center. Once formed, a tropical cyclone is maintained by the extraction of heat energy from the ocean at high temperature and heat export at the low temperatures of the upper troposphere. In this they differ from extratropical cyclones, which derive their energy from horizontal temperature contrasts in the atmosphere (baroclinic effects).
From the NWS:
A warm-core non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters, with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.
You’ll notice, I have the key words highlighted in red. Now, ANY of you that followed along, or even looked at satellite images of the systems when named, cannot contest the fact that some of the systems DID NOT meet the criteria. I know that AT LEAST 2 of the systems remained attached to frontal boundaries, (not to mentioned the so called un-named sub-tropical storm in Jan.), while at least 2 were named, with no DEEP ORGANIZED convection around the center of circulation. Convection and thunderstorms that pop up away from the center, and last briefly does not meet the criteria in order for a system to be named. Storms of this nature this season and past seasons, showed exposed “naked swirls” as the COC, yet the NHC named them. So, in my professional opinion, that is at the minimum 4 systems that should not have been named based on the criteria. The one that sticks in my mind, and makes no sense to me, is the so called “un-named” sub-tropical storm of Jan. 16 – 17. IF you just read the highlighted portion of the criteria, you’ll see “non frontal”. During its short life span, this system was in fact attached to a front. The following graphics are from the TAFB surface analysis charts for that time period. You will in fact, notice an occluded frontal boundary wrapping into the system:
Based on this analysis of systems in question, we DID not actually have 19 named storm systems (20 systems according to NHC counting the above system). I noticed folks involved with weather sites predicting a very busy season because of an extremely warm Atlantic, predicting 21 as a total, at the beginning of the season. The NHC came close, and you CAN “hit” those kinds of totals if you continue to name “ham sandwiches”(i.e. “naked swirls” / frontal systems) However, based on my analysis of the criteria and conditions set forth, in actuality, total named storms should be at 14 – 15, which would reflect my adjusted totals due to the change in oceanic conditions from previously analyzed climate forecast information. It takes more than just extremely warmer SST’s to reach above average season totals. I rest my case.
The season did produce 3 major hurricanes, MH Franklin, MH Idalia, and MH Lee. Franklin’s maximum sustained winds at peak were 150 mph, Idalia maxed at 130 mph, and Lee at 165 mph.
The following map is from the NHC showing all storm tracks for the 2023 hurricane season along with the link to partial storm summaries. The map is linked for a larger view:
At the moment, global and climate models continue to trend toward El Nino weakening and transitioning to a neutral to La Nina state, or an El Nino Modoki. Nino plume forecasts for the 3.4 region indicate a shift to neutral to negative values by the hurricane season of 2024. One map in particular catches my attention, and that would be the CANSIPS seasonal model. Though all of these forecasts are extended long range, should the CANSIPS solution pan out, this particular signal could make this season look quiet.
SST ANOMALIES FORECAST FROM VARIOUS MODELS
I will return to regular forecasting on Monday.
The following map will allow to get information from your NWS office.
NWS WATCH / WARNING DISPLAY (LINKED…CLICK MAP, THEN YOUR AREA)
NWS DOPPLER RADAR LOOP (LINKED, CLICK RADAR MAP)
RAP RADAR (CLICK IMAGE THEN RADAR SITE…ONCE YOU CLICK THE SITE, GO TO LOOP DURATION TO CREATE A LOOP)
CARIBBEAN RADAR (CLICK IMAGE)
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Have a blessed day!
T. F. “STORM” WALSH III
GMCS, USCG (ret)
METEOROLOGIST / HURRICANE SPECIALIST /SEVERE WEATHER SPECIALIST
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