MIAMI - The fourth most active Atlantic basin hurricane season in the satellite era has drawn to a close, but what could have been a season of records left the U.S. relatively unscathed compared to recent years.
According to NOAA estimates, between $3-$4 billion worth of damage was done during the 2023 hurricane season, making it the quietest season since 2015 - another El Niño year.
Idalia was the only U.S. landfalling hurricane in 2023
Hurricane Idalia, which struck Florida’s Big Bend as a Category 3 hurricane, was the most impactful cyclone and produced more than 80% of the season’s damage.
Government estimates put the damage tally at around $2.5-$3 billion, which was largely centered along the Gulf Coast, between Tallahassee and Tampa Bay.
Only two other cyclones impacted the U.S. – Harold and Ophelia – but both were at tropical storm intensities when they affected coastal communities.
The peak storm surge forecast for Hurricane Idalia. (FOX Weather)
The season's landfalling cyclone total matched 2022’s number, but stronger cyclones impacting heavily populated areas led to significantly more damage last year.
Hurricanes such as Ian and Nicole caused more than an estimated $118 billion in 2022, making it the third-costliest tropical cyclone season on record.
Past El Niño hurricane seasons and impacts
The 2023 season was more in line with the 2015 season, and for good reason – both seasons faced well-established El Niño weather patterns.
El Niño patterns are known to produce unfavorable conditions in parts of the Atlantic basin for tropical cyclone development, reducing chances that a well-organized storm impacts the U.S. coastline.
A list of the five costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. (FOX Weather)
The damage tally in 2015 was only reported to be around a few hundred million dollars, due in part to strikes from Tropical Storm Ana and Bill.
According to NOAA, a significant landfalling hurricane produces an average damage cost of around $22.8 billion, which is around 5 to 6 times the total damage valuation from the 2023 hurricane season.
The 2017 hurricane season produced an astonishing $300 billion in damage and ranks as the costliest tropical cyclone season on record.
Early look at the 2024 hurricane season
Forecasters have already started to look ahead to what the 2024 hurricane season could produce.
Unlike 2023, when tropical cyclones were forced to compete with a ramping up El Niño, the 2024 season looks like it’ll have to contend with atmospheric conditions that’ll be the opposite, with an El Niño that is in collapse.
El Nino computer model outlook (FOX Weather)
Nearly every climate model depicts a rapidly decaying El Niño event as the heart of the 2024 hurricane season approaches, which could have significant ramifications on tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin.
Many seasons following an El Niño have been busy, with above-average production of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.
The world will get its first glimpse of the 2024 hurricane outlook from Colorado State University on April 3, with NOAA’s outlook set to be released in May.
Hurricane season 2024 Atlantic basin tropical cyclone names (FOX Weather)