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UPDATE: The National Hurricane Center has classified the system in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Depression Two. It has winds at 35 mph. Click here to find out more‘ or check out the latest from the NHC.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — June 1 marks the official start of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, and like clockwork, WFLA Meteorologists Rebecca Barry, Amanda Holly, and WKRG Chief Meteorologist Ed Bloodsworth are already tracking a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters first spotted the system on Tuesday and reported low odds of development over a two-day period. By Thursday afternoon, those 10% odds of formation rose to 70%.
“For now, we have a medium chance of development,” Holly said during the season premiere of Tracking the Tropics. “There are a lot of things impacting this system right now. Strong upper-level winds are preventing this from forming at the moment. It is being called invest91L, though, so we do get those infamous spaghetti models. Luckily they are all in good consensus. It’s just going to drift to the South over the next couple of days.”
On Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said conditions remain marginally favorable for additional development. If trends continue, a short-lived tropical depression or storm is likely to form as soon as Thursday afternoon.
NHC added that the system is likely to meander over the northeastern Gulf Thursday night but begin to trek southward on Friday. Forecasters say conditions will become unfavorable for additional development by the weekend.
“These early season systems and very late season systems, this is typical when you get activity early or late in the season,” Bloodsworth said.
The forecast is in line with predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which expects a “near-normal” 2023 hurricane season.
NOAA forecasted between 12 and 17 total named storms from now until Nov. 30. Of those, five to nine will be hurricanes, and one to four major hurricanes.
NOAA said it has 70% confidence in these ranges, citing the high potential for El Nino development this summer. El Nino’s effects often suppress Atlantic hurricane activity, leading to fewer named systems.
While we may not know when exactly that first storm will strike, we’ve already known its name for years. The World Meteorological Organization maintains several lists of 21 names that are used in a six-year rotation.
If the names on the 2023 list sound familiar, it’s likely because you heard them in 2017. The first named storm of 2023: Arlene.
List of names for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
“This is the same list of names used in 2017. In that year, four names were retired from that list,” Bloodsworth said. “If you remember 2017 in the state of Florida, then one of those names you’ll remember very well — Irma. We also had Harvey, Maria, and Nate were retired that year.”
According to the NOAA website, “Storms are given short, distinctive names to avoid confusion and streamline communications.”
Tune in every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET to watch as WFLA’s team of meteorologists and others from the Nextstar Nation track developing weather systems and break down a wide range of hurricane-related topics.
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