Two forces in play for 2023 hurricane season

Published 7:19 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Atlantic Coast hurricane season officially began June 1 and runs through the end of November. This marks the period of time in which most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin, with an average of 12 named storms forming during the period, six of which are anticipated to develop into hurricanes.

The Weather Company and Colorado State University have issued their outlooks for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. This year’s predictions come with a dose of uncertainty, due to some conflicting key factors. Research shows that an El Niño, which occurs when trade winds weaken and warm water is pushed back east, toward the west coast of the Americas, is “increasingly likely,” according The Weather Company. This occurrence tends to lessen the number of named storms. On the flip side, the Atlantic Ocean water is “very warm” in a large number of areas, which has the potential to enhance storms.

In their initial outlook, The Weather Company forecast 15 named storms, seven of which are expected to become hurricanes and three of which are anticipated to reach Category 3 status or stronger. Colorado State University is forecasting 13 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

Predictions summarize the 2023 hurricane season as “near-average,” but researchers from Atmospheric G2 are concerned that two competing factors may battle for control, and one of those factors could take the season for a turn if it dominates.

The past three hurricanes seasons saw cooler than average Pacific equatorial waters, which was indicative of a La Niña. This has since changed, and this patch of water is now warming, shifting to El Niño. The Weather Channel reported that as of mid-April, “a large majority of forecast models suggested an El Niño is likely to develop, possibly as soon as this summer.” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast a 61% chance that an El Niño will take over by August through October, right in the heart of hurricane season.

Early spring sea-surface temperatures are giving forecasters pause on whether the El Niño will prove to slow storms, as the overall warmth of the Atlantic is close in comparison to spring abnormalities prior to the “prolific” 2020 hurricane season.

No matter what the season may bring, there are several things you can do now to prepare.

First, know your flood zone. Find out if your home is subject to flooding by determining where your property lies on the flood map. It is important to know if your property is located in a flood zone and what steps you can take to prepare your property and reduce the risk of flood damages. Contact the Dare County Planning Department to determine your flood zone and visit for more information about flood risks in the local area.

Next, it is important to insure your home, even if your property is not located in a flood zone. Whether you own your home or rent, ensure that your home and belongings are properly insured in the event of flooding or wind/hail damage. Flood policies normally take 30 days to go into effect. For more information on flood insurance, you can visit

Backing up important files and making a plan are crucial in preparing for hurricane season. File your most important documents away digitally and take the time to make digital copies. And before things get hairy, make an evacuation plan with your family. Decide on which route to take, what vehicles you will use and where you will stay. Don’t forget to include your pets in the plan as well!

Another important task to take care of prior to the hurricane season is to create an emergency supply kit. The following items should be included in your emergency supply kit, but don’t forget to take into account your family’s individual needs and unique circumstances so you can create a kit that meets everyone’s needs. An emergency kit should include: water (one gallon per person, per day for at least three days), non-perishable food, hand sanitizer/antibacterial hand wipes, change of clothes, blanket or sleeping bag, personal hygiene items, cell phone and solar battery charger/fully charged power banks, emergency light sources, portable radio and extra batteries, first aid kit and medications, cash and change, infant/pet supplies if needed, and important family documents.

Finally, be in the know by signing up for emergency notifications. Integrated Public Alert & Warning Systems (IPAWS) is the national alerting system, used by federal, state and local government authorities to send Wireless Electronic Alerts (WEA) to mobile devices. IPAWS will send emergency alerts during natural disasters and extreme weather. Types of weather warning sent as a WEA include tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, extreme wind warnings and storm surge warnings. Take it a step further and sign up for OBX Alerts via Dare County Emergency Management. Text “DareEmergencyAlerts” to 77295 today to stay in the “know” in our area.

Important Contacts:

Dare County Emergency Management – 252-475-5655

Dare Central Communications (Non-Emergency) – 252-473-3444

Tyrrell County Emergency Management – 252-796-1371

Hyde County Emergeny Management – 252-542-0806

Currituck Emergency Management – 252-232-2115


North Carolina: – 511

Virginia – 1-800-367-7623

N.C. Ferry Service – 1-800-293-3779


Dominion/N.C. Power – 1-866-366-4357

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative – 1-866-511-9862

Tideland Electric – 1-800-637-1079

Dare County Water Department – 252-475-5990

Spectrum – 833-267-6094

Century Link – 800-788-3600


Outer Banks SPCA – 252-475-5620

U.S. Coast Guard (Sector N.C.) – 910-343-3880

N.C. Highway Patrol – 1-800-441-6127

Cape Hatteras National Seashore – 252-473-2111

N.C. Emergency Management – State EOC – 1-800-858-0368