NATIONAL NEWS

Hurricane season that saw storms from California to Nova Scotia ends Thursday

Nov 30, 2023, 12:45 PM

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Jai Somers, left, holds hurricane warning f...

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Jai Somers, left, holds hurricane warning flags aloft as they burn after being doused with rum by Paul Menta, right, to mark the end of the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Key West, Fla. According to the National Hurricane Center, this year's above-normal Atlantic hurricane season was characterized by record warm Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures and a strong El Nino. The Atlantic basin saw 20 named storms in 2023. (Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Carol Tedesco/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A busy hurricane season that saw the National Hurricane Center in Miami issue the first-ever tropical storm warning for the coast of California and hurricane warnings as far north as Nova Scotia is coming to a close Thursday night.

The Atlantic basin had 20 named storms — the fourth-highest total since 1950. They include seven hurricanes, three of which became major hurricanes at a Category 3 or higher.

“The 2023 hurricane season does show that we can get impacts just about everywhere,” said Michael Brennan, director of the hurricane center. “We had a tropical storm affect Southern California, Hurricane Idalia make landfall as a major hurricane along the Florida Gulf Coast, and we had Ophelia affect the U.S. East Coast all the way up to New England, and we also had effects all the way up in the Northeast with Hurricane Lee making landfall in Nova Scotia.”

There were also multiple hurricane landfalls across Mexico, especially late in the season, including Hurricane Otis, a Category 5 storm which devastated Acapulco and killed dozens.

“It was a really busy season,” Brennan said.

The high number of named storms is part of a period of active storms dating back to 2017, he said. This season in particular brought a “continuous period of activity” in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

But Brennan said there were some positives.

“I think one thing to focus on is we had a major hurricane landfall on the Gulf Coast of Florida, which is an area that’s very vulnerable to storm surge, and we had no storm surge fatalities,” he said.

The marshy area of Florida’s west coast where the storm made landfall is sparsely populated, which helped residents evacuate ahead of the storm.

“That’s a success, and we should be proud of that,” Brennan said. He added that the hurricane center’s new storm surge warning system and consistent forecasts played a major role.

A year earlier, a strong storm surge during Hurricane Ian resulted in multiple deaths and significant destruction across southwest Florida. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration attributed 156 deaths to Ian, 66 of which the storm directly caused.

Florida’s rough 2022 made this hurricane season a source of anxiety for many residents, including Danielle DeLoach, the general manager at Tropic Shores Resort in Daytona Beach Shores. She said she’s more than relieved hurricane season is ending.

The resort on the Atlantic Ocean lost its seawall and pool deck during Hurricane Nicole last November, and the building was condemned for about four weeks after the storm.

“We were fully exposed because we didn’t have a seawall,” DeLoach said. “I think everybody here that got damage to their seawalls were scared about this season.”

The resort’s seawall has been rebuilt, but they’re still working to replace their pool.

“Even with the king tides and everything else that happens on the Atlantic Ocean, at least we’re protected now,” DeLoach said. “Even though we don’t have a pool deck and a pool, at least the seawall is up.”

Forecasters at the hurricane center in Miami may take a day or two to recover, but Brennan says “the offseason is busy in a different way” as they prepare for the 2024 season beginning June 1. The team will focus on reports on every storm that formed in 2023, and they’ll begin training and preparedness activities for next season.

“So it’s either hurricane season, or you’re getting ready for the next hurricane season,” he said.

___

Fischer reported from Miami.

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