(WGHP) – With just under a month until the peak of hurricane season, NOAA released an updated forecast for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season. 

The most recent forecast increases their original prediction of a “near normal” 2023 Atlantic hurricane season to an “above normal” season. 

The outlook now calls for a 70% chance of 14 to 21 named storms, with six to 11 reaching hurricane strength and two to five major hurricanes. 

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NOAA says that the increased forecast numbers are due to current ocean and atmospheric conditions, such as record-warm sea surface temperatures. 

In the updated outlook, NOAA also states “current conditions are likely to counterbalance the usually limiting atmospheric conditions associated with the ongoing El Nino event.” 

Climate scientists noted that the conditions that typically limit cycle activity in the Atlantic during an El Nino year have been slow to develop, so those conditions may not be in place for much of the remaining hurricane season.

NOAA’s original 2023 Atlantic hurricane season forecast was released in May and called for 12 to 17 named storms, five to nine reaching hurricane strength and 1 to 4 major hurricanes. 

An average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. 

2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season So Far

As of Aug. 14, there have been four named storms in the Atlantic this season. Only one of the four named storms has reached hurricane strength. 

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The first, Arlene, formed on June 1 and saw maximum wind speeds of 40 mph. 

Tropical Storm Bret was the second storm of the season, forming on June 19 with maximum sustained winds reaching 70 mph. 

Tropical Storm Cindy formed close behind Bret on June 22 and reached peak sustained winds of 60 mph.  

The fourth storm of the season was Hurricane Don which formed over the central Atlantic on July 14. Don reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph which made it the one and only hurricane observed so far this season. 

No tropical cyclone development is forecast over the next 48 hours. 

However, the National Hurricane Center is watching two areas of interest in the Atlantic that have a 30 percent chance of development over the next week.