FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A busy hurricane season that has seen the National Hurricane Center in Miami issue the first-ever tropical storm warning for the California coast and hurricane warnings as far north as Nova Scotia comes to an end Thursday evening.
The Atlantic Basin had 20 named storms – the fourth most since 1950. This included seven hurricanes, three of which became major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
“The 2023 hurricane season shows that we could see impacts just about anywhere,” said Michael Brennan, director of the hurricane center. “We had a tropical storm that hit Southern California, Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a major hurricane along the Gulf Coast of Florida, and we had Ophelia impact the East Coast of the US all the way to New England, and we also had impacts all the way into the northeast when Hurricane Lee made landfall in Nova Scotia.
There were also multiple hurricane landfalls across Mexico, especially late in the season, including Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm that devastated Acapulco and killed dozens of people.
“It’s been a very busy season,” Brennan said.
The high number of named storms is part of a period of active storms dating back to 2017, he said. This season in particular brought a “continuous period of activity” in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But Brennan said there were some positives.
“I think we need to focus on one thing: we had a major hurricane landfall on the Gulf Coast of Florida, an area that is very vulnerable to storm surge, and there were no fatalities from storm surge,” he said.
The swampy area on Florida’s west coast where the storm made landfall is sparsely populated, allowing residents to evacuate before the storm.
“That’s a success, and we can be proud of that,” Brennan said. He added that the new storm surge warning system and the hurricane center’s consistent forecasts played an important role.
A year earlier, a strong storm surge during Hurricane Ian resulted in several deaths and significant destruction in southwest Florida. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attributed 156 deaths to Ian, 66 of which were directly caused by the storm.
Florida’s rough 2022 made this hurricane season a source of anxiety for many residents, including Danielle DeLoach, the general manager of the Tropic Shores Resort in Daytona Beach Shores. She said she is more than relieved that hurricane season is coming to an end.
The Atlantic Ocean resort lost its seawall and pool deck during Hurricane Nicole last November, and the building was condemned for about four weeks after the storm.
“We were completely exposed because we had no seawall,” DeLoach said. “I think everyone here who suffered seawall damage was afraid of this season.”
The resort’s seawall has been rebuilt, but they are still in the process of replacing their pool.
“Even with the big tides and everything else that’s happening in the Atlantic Ocean, at least we’re protected now,” DeLoach said. “Even though we don’t have a pool deck and swimming pool, at least the sea wall is up.”
Forecasters at the hurricane center in Miami may need a day or two to recover, but Brennan says “the offseason is busy in a different way” as they prepare for the 2024 season that starts June 1. The team will focus on reports on every storm that forms in 2023, and they will begin training and preparation activities for next season.
“So it’s hurricane season, or you’re preparing for the next hurricane season,” he said.
Fischer reported from Miami.