USM professor expects above-average 2023 hurricane season
Published 1:00 pm Monday, May 22, 2023
The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical storms occur in the Atlantic — more than 97 percent.
Dr. David Holt, associate professor of geography in the School of Coastal Resilience at The University of Southern Mississippi, says hurricane experts and models are predicting a slightly more active than average hurricane season for 2023. A big factor will be how an El Niño plays into the weather patterns.
“We are predicting a pretty strong El Niño by the end of the year,” Holt said. “It’s about a 90 percent chance.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an El Niño is described as trade winds weakening and warmer weather pushed east toward the west coast of the Americas. Many areas in the U.S. become warmer. Along the Gulf Coast, the weather is wetter and may bring increased flooding.
An El Niño tends to curve many storms into the Atlantic, while a La Niña tends to pull many storms into the Gulf — though Holt said an El Niño does not mean we won’t see Gulf storms.
Now is the time to plan and think about what storms to evacuate from, Holt said. Planning is essentially, especially regarding food and supplies.
“Make a plan and know your situation,” he said.
Buying items such as batteries, flashlights, water and food for 3-5 days per person is ideal.
“You need to have your disaster list ready. Have water, get your canned goods and make sure your generator works now, not 72 hours before a storm comes,” Holt said.
The professor also emphasized the importance of receiving accurate information when tracking storms. While many websites thrive from panic and clicks, Holt recommends checking the National Hurricane Center website at www.nhc.noaa.gov for up-to-date information.
“In the long run we are playing the prediction model,” Holt said. “That’s part of the game of living (here).”
FEMA also recommends having cash, sanitation supplies, extra fuel for generator or vehicle, and copies of personal documents (house deed/lease, birth certificates, insurance policies, medical info, proof of address).