NOAA Calls for “Near Normal” Season

As of June 1, hurricane season is upon us. Almost without exception, we in the Northeast U.S. get the tail, shoulder or rump of one or two of the dozen or so that form up in the Atlantic between the Caribbean and Africa and bring so much destruction and misery as they thunder west and north. Many of us live on an island. And now an “average” season is worse than ever. This column is about that.


NOAA predicts a near-normal 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season

NOAA forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, predict near-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic this year. NOAA’s outlook for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, which goes from June 1 to November 30, predicts a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.
NOAA is forecasting a range of 12 to 17 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA has a 70% confidence in these ranges.


“Major hurricanes” are defined as Category 3, 4 or 5 based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (see table below.) Hurricanes that fall in these categories have sustained winds above 111 miles per hour, which can cause catastrophic damage that could result in power outages and leave residential areas uninhabitable for several days to months.



Categories of Hurricanes

We’ve all heard the weather reporter state, “Hurricane Exene is now a Category 3 hurricane and headed for ________.” What does that mean?

Want to put some names on the numbers?

Irene, 1999, CAT-1

Sandy, 2012, CAT-1

Floyd, 1999, CAT-2

Georges, 1998, CAT-2

Betsy, 1965, CAT-3

Alicia, 1983, CAT-3

Hugo, 1989, CAT-4

Andrew, 1992, CAT-5

Katrina, 2005, CAT-5

Dorian, 2019, CAT-5

USCG hurricane aircraft reported Andrew, Katrina and Dorian had generated winds over 200 mph at various times of the storms. Destruction wrought by CAT-5s is termed “Wrath of God.”

When looking at CAT-5s, no one is saying that there is no difference between a storm that brings 160 mph winds and one that reaches 190. The force of the wind goes up with the square of the velocity. In layman’s terms, that means a hurricane with 200 mph winds has four times — not just double — the force of one with 100 mph winds.

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but storms can form before and after. We’ll write more about this in the weeks ahead.

If you are interested in being pxart of USCG Forces, email me at or go directly to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary “Flotilla Finder” at and we will help you “get in this thing.” ■

The Captain of the Port and Sector Commander for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound is Captain Elisa Garrity. CAPT Garrity is responsible for all active-duty, reservist and auxiliary Coast Guard personnel within the Sector. As a Commodore in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary First District, Southern Region, Vin Pica works closely with CAPT Garrity and her staff to promote boating safety in the waters between Connecticut, Long Island and 200 nautical miles offshore. Sector Long Island Sound Command Center can be reached 24 hours a day at 203-468-4401.