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Hurricane Season 2023: Mid-Season Check In

October 02, 2023

The 2023 hurricane season has reached its midpoint, and we’ve been following the news of its many tropical storms and hurricanes, some of which have made landfall in the US. We’ll take a look at how predictions have evolved and the impacts of the storms to date.

See More Hurricane Season Insights & Advice

An updated outlook

In May the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its predictions for the 2023 hurricane season, anticipating “near-normal” hurricane activity, which it outlined as 1-4 major hurricanes, 5-9 total hurricanes and 12-17 named storms.

However, on August 10, NOAA updated its outlook to reflect record-warm Atlantic Sea surface temperatures, which are a result of El Nino. NOAA upgraded its predictions to “above-normal” activity in the form of 2-5 major hurricanes, 6-11 total hurricanes and 14-21 named storms.

NOAA hurricane outlook August update.
NOAA hurricane outlook August update. Courtesy NOAA

Notable storms thus far

Let’s take a look at the storms that made landfall in or directly impacted regions of the United States in 2023:

Hurricane Hilary

While most hurricane season coverage focuses on the East Coast, one exception is Hurricane Hilary, which made landfall on the Baja California Peninsula in August, nearly becoming the first tropical storm to make landfall in California since 1939. The National Hurricane Center issued its first-ever tropical storm warning for Southern California and heavy rainfall and flooding was forecasted across the Southwest US. While the storm did bring significant rain, impacts were less severe than originally predicted. However, catastrophe modeler Karen Clark & Company estimated that private insurance loses from the storm were close to $600 million in the US.

Hurricane Idalia

Briefly a Category 4 storm before making landfall as a Category 3 in the Big Bend region of northern Florida in late August, Hurricane Idalia caused significant damage across parts of the southeastern US. It marked the most powerful hurricane to hit the region since 1896, and winds and floodwaters damaged many homes, businesses and infrastructure. The storm spawned an outbreak of tornadoes and four people died in in storm-related incidents. States impacted beyond Florida included Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Insurance losses from the storm were estimated between $2.2 and $5 billion.

Hurricane Lee

In early September Hurricane Lee swept up along the East Coast, impacting many US States. Though it ultimately made landfall in Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador), Lee caused dangerous rip currents and strong winds along its path. States impacted included New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. Three storm-related fatalities were confirmed.

Tropical Storm Ophelia

Making landfall near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, on September 22, Tropical Storm Ophelia brought 70 mph winds before quickly weakening as it moved inland. Ahead of its arrival, states of emergency were declared in Virgina, North Carolina and Maryland. The wind gusts brought downed power lines and trees and left more than 70,000 utility customers without power. The remnants of the storm then pummeled New York City, causing flash flooding within the tri-state area.

2023 Atlantic tropical cyclone names used to date.
2023 Atlantic tropical cyclone names used to date. Courtesy NOAA

Where we are now

As of today, the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season has seen 17 named storms and 6 hurricanes (three were category 3 or above). With Tropical Storm Phillipe threatening the Leeward Islands in the northeastern Caribbean, only five names remain on the list, at which point forecasters will switch to the Greek alphabet.

Hurricane season continues through November 30. Stay tuned for our next installment in our hurricane season 2023 coverage, which will explore how hurricanes of the past have shaped the building codes of today.

Contact Us

Don't wait until a storm is predicted to strike your area. Contact Thornton Tomasetti to help you develop an emergency preparedness plan. In the event that a hurricane does damage your property, we have performed rapid assessments for a variety of clients on a range of building types across the coasts and we can help you get back to functionality as quickly as possible.