The 2023 Atlantic hurricane season could be slightly less active than normal, according to the annual preseason forecast from Colorado State University.

CSU researchers predicted 13 named storms, including six reaching hurricane strength with winds in excess of 75 mph and two becoming major hurricanes with sustained wind speeds topping 111 mph. An average Atlantic season produces 14 named storms, including seven developing to hurricane strength with three attaining major hurricane status. 

CSU’s Tropical Meteorology Project has tracked storm formation and related data based upon sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions since 1984. Researchers are citing “likely development of El Niño as a primary factor” in their prediction of below-normal activity this year. But they also warned of uncertainty in their outlook “given the conflicting signals between a potentially robust El Niño and an anomalously warm tropical and subtropical Atlantic.”

CSU researchers say hurricane activity was about 75% of average last year, but two major hurricanes, Fiona and Ian, achieved Category 4 strength with sustained winds of 140 mph, causing widespread damage from high winds, flooding and storm surge. 

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30. Utility, transportation and public safety interests typically begin seasonal preparations for storm activity by mid-spring.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center will issue its preseason forecast on May 25, and CSU researchers will issue updated monthly forecasts starting June 1.