4 Steps to Prepare for Increasingly Unstable 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Record high Atlantic water temperatures are leading forecasters to predict an above-average hurricane season. Learn how to build business resilience to protect hurricane-prone properties.
Researchers are updating their predictions for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, as record high ocean temperatures may lead to an above-normal season.
Unprecedented warm waters are attributed to effects of climate change, but also El Niño.
Businesses should build resilience into their risk management programs for hurricane-prone occupancies.
A troubling meteorological battle is brewing in the North Atlantic between the forces of El Niño and record high water temperatures — conflicting signals that create uncertainty about what this Atlantic hurricane season has in store.
In early July 2023, hurricane researchers at Colorado State University (CSU) amended their seasonal forecast, predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. Ocean water temperatures as high as 100 degrees may counteract the wind shear from El Niño that typically tears storms apart as they form, delivering milder Atlantic hurricane seasons.
Very warm ocean temperatures provide the fuel hurricanes need to develop and grow, and what is occurring in the Atlantic and globally is unprecedented.
As a result, the CSU team is now predicting 18 named storms, nine hurricanes and four major hurricanes for the 2023 season. The probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. is above the long-term average. In an earlier forecast, CSU had predicted 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.1
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), meanwhile, is forecasting 12 to 17 named tropical storms in the Atlantic Basin, with the formation of five to nine hurricanes.2
The Causes of Increasing Water Temperatures
The record high ocean temperatures can be attributed to the effects of climate change, but also El Niño itself, which tends to bring warm ocean waters back to the surface.3 The Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identifies five known impacts of climate change on tropical cyclones:
- Higher percentage of hurricane-equivalent storms reaching categories four and five
- Warmer sea surface temperatures that lead to rapid intensification of storms
- Warmer and wetter atmosphere translating to heavier precipitation on a per-storm basis
- Storms tracking at higher latitudes due to warmer waters from ocean circulation pattern changes in these regions
- Slowing forward motion and reduced rates of inland decay following landfall4
The Peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season: Late Summer and Early Fall
The Atlantic hurricane season usually kicks into a higher gear in August, peaking around September 10 before officially ending on November 30.
September and October hurricanes can also be the most powerful. Hurricane Ian, which struck between September 27 and October 1, 2022, is a prime example. Ian’s economic loss of $95.5 billion was higher than the next seven global economic loss events combined.5
Prepare Now: Four Ways to Build Business Resilience
If a business or critical suppliers are in hurricane-prone areas, it’s important to take control of the impending risk by ensuring windstorms are included in business continuity plans. This advanced planning and preparation will help mitigate a storm’s impact and assure continuity of crucial business processes. Flexibility and clear, frequent communications will be key in successfully responding to events as they occur.
We recommend incorporating these steps when building and reviewing a response plan:
- Identify key stakeholders. A critical element of a proactive hurricane response plan is to identify and have the contact information for key personnel, external consultants and resources. This includes brokers, insurance adjusters, legal, accounting/finance and restoration contractors, should an event cause damage or render sites temporarily inoperable.
- Designate a response leader. It’s important to designate an internal leader, such as the CFO or risk manager, as well as alternate staff to coordinate the response and claims teams to ensure all plan elements are implemented on a timely basis. Creating a flowchart or playbook will help make the entire process more efficient. Plan simulations using various event scenarios can also help address any issues. Consider implementing “call trees” to confirm all team members can be effectively reached during and after an event. These items should also be included or cross-referenced in business continuity plans.
- Understand business interruption risks. Include a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s plants and locations situated in hurricane-prone regions to ensure a full understanding of their risk exposure, business interruption and asset values. There are several mobile applications available that provide business continuity plans to make certain all team members have these details at their fingertips.
- Address wind, flooding, power outages and loss of communication resources. One lesson learned from major storms is that planning must address not only wind-related loss, but storm surge, flooding, extended power outages and interruption of land line, cell phone and internet access, as well as site inaccessibility.
Learn more about catastrophe preparedness and response readiness at the Aon Hurricane and Natural Catastrophe Planning and Response Site. This offers valuable resources designed to support an organization against the potential impacts of natural disasters.
1 Forecast for 2023 Hurricane Activity | Colorado State University
2 Hurricane outlook for 2023: NOAA announces hurricane prediction
3 Global ocean temperatures spike to record levels as El Niño nears | Axios
4 2021 Weather, Climate and Catastrophe Insight | Aon
5 2023 Weather, Climate and Catastrophe Insight | Aon
The information contained herein and the statements expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information and use sources we consider reliable, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.
The contents herein may not be reproduced, reused, reprinted or redistributed without the expressed written consent of Aon, unless otherwise authorized by Aon. To use information contained herein, please write to our team.
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