Above-normal hurricane season comes to an end

Published on November 30, 2023 at 3:00 pm

The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially comes to an end today, concluding six months of above-normal activity.

The season begins on June 1 of every year and runs until Nov. 30. The season was characterized by record warm waters and a strong El Nino event, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Daniel Brown.

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Twenty named storms formed in the Atlantic this season, making 2023 tied with 1933 for the fourth most on record. Of the 20, seven went on to become hurricanes, and three were major hurricanes.

El Nino usually suppresses activity with its wind shear, but the low pressure in the tropical Atlantic was likely the reason it did not have its usual impact.

“It was another active hurricane season,” Brown said. “Those conditions in the Atlantic ended up being pretty favorable to get those storms to form.”

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Standout storms of the season include Hurricane Idalia, Hurricane Lee and Hurricane Ophelia.

Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane in the Big Bend region of Florida on Aug. 30. It brought significant wind damage and storm surge of 7 to 12 feet to Keaton Beach and surrounding areas. Widespread rainfall and flooding spread across the Southeast.

Favorable conditions enabled Hurricane Lee to rapidly intensify to a Category 5 hurricane on Sept. 7, impacting Bermuda, the northeastern U.S. and Atlantic Canada.

Ophelia soon followed and became the 15th named storm of the season on Sept. 22. Ophelia made landfall off the coast of North Carolina and brought widespread heavy rainfall, gusty winds and significant river and storm surge to portions of Eastern North Carolina. It later weakened to a Tropical Depression over southern Virginia.

An average season brings 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, so 2023 stands well above the average.

The lesson to take away from this season is to always be prepared, FPREN Meteorologist Megan Borowski shared.

“In terms of U.S. impacts, the country as a whole was spared from a lot of landfalls,” Borowski said. “Florida had the only major hurricane landfall out of the three US landfalls this season. So, in short, it only takes one storm to really devastate an area.”

Although the season has ended, cyclones can form outside of the six-month span. That is what happened in January 2023 when an unnamed storm formed in the Atlantic.

Brown and Borowski both encourage visitors and residents to watch the forecast for severe weather and keep supplies on hand.

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