Changes, changes and what to expect


HOUSTON – We had an active overnight and now that the bulk of heavy rain is moving out, we can expect changes for a nice weekend! A subtle reminder that we seem to move quickly from Easter weekend to hurricane season, so, speaking of changes, let’s tackle a couple regarding the upcoming season.

First, the list of 2023 Atlantic Hurricane names include FOUR new ones: Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel. These names replace Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate from the 2017 list. There are six lists that rotate every six years, so you’ll probably recognize a few of these names from the past. If warranted, the World Meteorological Organization will retire a name based on just how destructive that storm was. My namesake is still on the list (Franklin made the list in 2005, replacing Floyd from 1999).

Four new names have been added: Harold, Idalia, Margot and Nigel.

Speaking of retired names, the WMO recently announced that Fiona and Ian would be retired from last year. They will be replaced by Farrah and Idris next time around, in 2028.

The National Hurricane Center has also made a few changes for the upcoming season, the biggest of which is that rather than forecasting a tropical disturbance five days out, they are extending that to seven days.

courtesy National Hurricane Center

This makes sense given that computer models have become so good with forecasting a week out. The NHC will also publicly name areas of investigation using a number in the 90s and “L” designation for Atlantic Invests. So the first disturbance of this year will be known as 90L. Hopefully, this will get rid of the “Potential Tropical Cyclone” designation that was more confusing and cumbersome than anything else. They’ll also be running spaghetti models on these invests which is what everyone likes to see!

Speaking of accuracy, the Cone of Uncertainty or Forecast Cone as I call it, is staying about the same size but is a bit smaller for days three through five, meaning the accuracy for long term hurricane forecasts has improved. Still, keep in mind that only 2/3 of storms stay in those cones...they are not absolute!

Incidentally, the “experimental” storm surge graphic used since 2020 will now be “operational” which is to say that we can count on that forecast when threatened by those rising waters. Here’s an example:

courtesy National Hurricane Center

The NHC is also increasing their on-line streaming and social media presence along with making a few changes to the watches and warnings at the local level. You can have a look at the update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2023 right here.

Forecasts for the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane season are starting to roll in and I’m expecting more next week, so we’ll explore then what looks to be a less active season this year. Let’s hope.

In the meantime, hop into a dry and eggs-ellent weekend!


Email me with comments and questions!

About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with four decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.