COLUMBUS, GA (WRBL) — NOAA has released its 2023 Atlantic hurricane season forecast. The agency expects a near normal season with 15 to 17 named storms — five to nine of these hurricanes and one to four becoming major hurricanes.

The numbers are slightly less than past years due to the end of La Nina. This year, a few competing factors may keep the number close to normal: a transition to El Nino and favorable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin.

During an El Niño year, the waters in the central and eastern Pacific become warmer. This area also experiences less wind shear and thus increased hurricane activity. Meanwhile in the Atlantic, El Niño creates an increase in upper-level winds known as wind shear. Unlike La Niña years, this will suppress hurricane activity by strengthening high pressure and leading to more atmospheric stability. 

A Neutral phase will continue through the summer with El Niño coming into gear by the peak months of August and September. 

It is important to remember that it only takes one and to be prepared despite what the outlook may say. 

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.