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HOME > Expert Assessments > East Pacific Hurricane Outlook

NOAA 2023 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook

Issued: 25 May 2023

Realtime monitoring of tropical Atlantic conditions
Realtime monitoring of tropical East Pacific conditions

The 2023 eastern Pacific Hurricane Season outlook is an official product of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), and is produced in collaboration with hurricane experts from the NOAA National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Hurricane Research Division (HRD). The eastern Pacific hurricane region covers the eastern North Pacific Ocean east of 140°W north of the equator.

Interpretation of NOAA's eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook
This outlook is general guide to the expected overall activity during the upcoming hurricane season. It is not a seasonal hurricane landfall forecast, and it does not imply levels of activity for any particular location.

Hurricane-related disasters can occur during any season, even for years with low overall activity. It only takes one hurricane (or even a tropical storm) to cause a disaster. It is crucial that residents, businesses, and government agencies of coastal and near-coastal regions prepare for every hurricane season regardless of this, or any other, seasonal outlook. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through and, the NHC, the Small Business Administration, and the American Red Cross all provide important hurricane preparedness information on their web sites.

NOAA does not make seasonal hurricane landfall predictions
NOAA does not make seasonal hurricane landfall predictions. Hurricane landfalls are largely determined by the weather patterns in place as the hurricane approaches, which are only predictable when the storm is several days of making landfall.

Nature of this Outlook and the "likely" ranges of activity
This outlook is probabilistic, meaning the stated "likely" ranges of activity have a certain likelihood of occurring. The seasonal activity is expected to fall within these ranges in 7 out of 10 seasons with similar conditions and uncertainties to those expected this year. They do not represent the total possible ranges of activity seen in past similar years.

This outlook is based on climate model forecasts, and on predictions of large-scale climate factors and conditions that are known to strongly influence seasonal eastern Pacific hurricane activity. The outlook also takes into account uncertainties inherent in such climate outlooks.

Sources of uncertainty in this seasonal outlook

  1. Predicting El Niño and La Niña events (also called El Niño-Southern Oscillation, ENSO) and specific impacts on eastern Pacific hurricane activity is an ongoing scientific challenge facing climate scientists today. Such forecasts made during the spring generally have more uncertainty than those made closer to the peak of hurricane season.
  2. Uncertainty as to whether the eastern Pacific has shifted to a persistent low-activity era, or that the recent quiescent period will be short lived and there will be a return to the high-activity era that lasted from 2014-2019.
  3. Predicting the combined impacts associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), ENSO, and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) remains a challenge, especially when they have different temporal variability that sometimes results in competing influences.
  4. Many combinations of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes can occur for the same general set of climate conditions. For example, one cannot know with certainty whether a given climate signal will be associated with several short-lived storms or fewer longer-lived storms with greater intensity.
  5. Shorter-term weather patterns that are unpredictable on seasonal time scales can sometimes develop and last for weeks or months within a season, possibly affecting seasonal hurricane activity.

2023 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Outlook Summary

a. Predicted Activity

NOAA's 2023 eastern Pacific Hurricane Season outlook indicates an above-normal season is most likely (55% chance). There is a 35% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season.See NOAA definitions of above-, near-, and below-normal seasons. The eastern Pacific hurricane region covers the eastern North Pacific Ocean east of 140°W and north of the equator.

The 2023 outlook calls for a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity:

  • 14-20 Named Storms
  • 7-11 Hurricanes
  • 4-8 Major Hurricanes
  • Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 90%-155% of the median.

The activity is expected to fall within these ranges in 70% of seasons with similar climate conditions and uncertainties to those expected this year. These ranges do not represent the total possible ranges of activity seen in past similar years. These predicted ranges are centered below the 1991-2020 averages of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

The eastern Pacific hurricane season officially runs from May 15th through November 30th. The peak months of the season are July-September (JAS).

There will be no further updates to this outlook.

b. Reasoning behind the outlook

Two main climate factors are expected to contribute to an above-normal 2023 hurricane season across the eastern (and central) Pacific hurricane basins, as follows:

  1. The latest monthly sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies reflect ENSO-neutral conditions, on the path to the predicted El Niño, and a negative PDO structure, while also showing the North Atlantic SSTs as above-normal for much of the basin. Dissimilar from the past 2 years, positive SST anomalies are measured in the far tropical eastern Pacific near Peru. However, SST anomalies in the regions where many of the tropical storms and hurricanes form (110°W-140°W) are still below normal. The predicted SST anomaly patterns indicate above-average SSTs across the eastern Pacific hurricane region, though there is some evidence of influence from the negative PDO related circulation pushing cooler waters southward. The cooler waters are expected to occur mainly west of 110°W. SSTs across the Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR) are above normal, and warmer than last year at this time. Historically, this combination tends to be associated with near- or above-normal hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific, as El Niño does tend to have a larger influence, though El Niño concurrent with a negative PDO is not that common (39 of 880 months since Jan 1950).

  2. The most recent forecast from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center indicates El Niño conditions are likely through the hurricane season. The ENSO influence on eastern Pacific hurricane activity is highly dependent upon the background SST patterns across the eastern Pacific hurricane region and the Atlantic MDR. The combination of El Niño and above-normal temperatures in the Atlantic MDR tends to favor increased eastern Pacific hurricane activity, often resulting in a near- or above-normal hurricane season. El Niño combined with a warm Atlantic MDR and negative PDO, can result in a wide range of outcomes, centered just slightly above the 1991-2020 averages. El Niño and a high activity era in the East Pacific, which we may be entering, results in even high named storm, hurricane, major hurricane, and ACE totals.


1. Expected 2023 activity

NOAA's 2022 eastern Pacific Hurricane Season outlook indicates an above-normal season is most likely (55% chance). There is a 35% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The 2023 eastern Pacific hurricane season is predicted to produce (with 70% probability for each range) 14-20 named storms, of which 7-11 are expected to become hurricanes, and 4-8 of those hurricanes are expected to become major hurricanes. These ranges are centered above the official NHC 1991-2020 seasonal averages of 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes.

An important measure of the total seasonal activity is NOAA’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the combined intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season. This 2023 outlook indicates a 70% chance that the ACE range will be 90%-155% of the median. An ACE value of 80%-120% of the median indicates a near-normal season. Values above this range reflect an above-normal season, and values below this range reflect a below-normal season.

Predictions of the location, number, timing, and intensity of hurricane landfalls are ultimately related to the daily weather patterns which determine storm genesis locations and steering patterns. These patterns are not predictable weeks or months in advance. As a result, it is currently not possible to reliably predict the number or intensity of landfalling hurricanes at these extended ranges, or whether a given locality will be impacted by a tropical storm or hurricane this season.

2. Science behind the Outlook

NOAA’s eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook is based on predictions of the main climate factors and their associated relationships to the hurricane season, as well as direct output from numerical models. The outlook is based on extensive monitoring, analysis, research activities, a suite of statistical prediction tools, and dynamical models. The dynamical model predictions come from the NOAA Climate Forecast System (CFS), NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL) HiFLOR and SPEAR-MED modes, the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), the United Kingdom Met Office (UKMET) GloSea6 model, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) Seas5 model. ENSO forecasts are also provided from the NMME dynamical models contained in the suite of Niño 3.4 SST forecasts, which is compiled by NOAA’s CPC.

NOAA's 2023 eastern Pacific hurricane season outlook reflects two main factors:

  1. The predicted SST anomaly patterns indicate near to above-average SSTs across the eastern Pacific hurricane region, and above-average SSTs across the Atlantic MDR. In the region where most tropical cyclones form in the eastern Pacific, SSTs are currently below normal. The uncertainty in the outlooks for the SSTs to reverse sign is reflected in the relatively moderate probabilities in this outlook. For the Pacific, these conditions also project onto the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). In the Atlantic, SSTs project onto the warm (positive) phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM). Historically, this combination of climate patterns tends to be associated with near-normal or above-normal activity in the eastern Pacific hurricane region. The exact interplay and net result of the interbasin relationships is uncertain and still a focus of ongoing research, and that uncertainty is reflected in the relatively moderate probabilities in this outlook. These conditions do not come about often, with only 39 of 880 months since Jan 1950 having an El Niño during JAS (JAS Niño 3.4 < -0.5°C) combined with a PDO < -0.1 during JAS. The exact interplay and net result of the interbasin relationships is uncertain and still a focus of ongoing research.

  2. The most recent forecast from the CPC favors El Niño (91% chance) conditions during JAS with negligible odds for the development of La Nina (~0%). Historically, El Niño events usually mean more activity for the East Pacific, and often for the Central Pacific. During high activity eras in the East Pacific, typically associated with low activity eras in the Atlantic - which we are not in now, ENSO-neutral can produce about as many storms as El Niño. The conclusion the team drew from that is that during uncertain eras, ENSO can have an outsized impact, but that other factors can increase the uncertainty.

a. El Niño favored

ENSO-neutral conditions are present at this time. As of May 22, 2023, the weekly SSTs are currently near average across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and the SST index for the Niño 3.4 region is +0.5°C. The weekly Niño 3.4 index had been between -0.5°C and +0.5°C since February of 2023. The Niño 3.4 index has shown a significant warming trend since December 2022. The wind and outgoing longwave radiation patterns over the central Pacific are also reflecting a breakdown of the atmospheric response to La Niña forcings, and more influence from intraseasonal modes. Looking forward, the official CPC ENSO outlook indicates a very high confidence in the development of El Niño conditions during JAS 2023. The model-predicted SST anomalies in the Niño 3.4 region generally indicate El Niño (Niño 3.4 index greater than +0.5°C) conditions throughout the hurricane season. The dynamical model average (dashed black line) indicates El Niño through the summer and autumn of 2023, with only one modeling system indicating ENSO-neutral. When using a larger pool of models, that includes multiple dynamical models, multiple statistical models, and unique combinations 21 of 24 models indicate El Niño, with 3 indicating warm but neutral conditions. NOAA’s Climate Forecast System (CFS) and the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) are predicting El Niño. The CFS predicts below-normal shear over the East Pacific while the NMME predicts well above-normal shear for the same region. The shear predicted by the NMME this year is stronger than what was predicted last year (further from climatology) for much of the hurricane development region of the eastern Pacific.

b. Eastern North Pacific high- and low-activity eras

In addition to year-to-year fluctuations, eastern Pacific hurricane activity exhibits strong variability on decadal and multi-decadal time scales. Periods of decreased activity (such as 1971-1981 and 1995-2013) are called low-activity eras, and periods of increased activity (such as 1982-1994 and 2014-2019) are called high-activity eras, though it’s not clear if the recent lull is indeed an end to a high-activity era, or simply a pause, given 2022 being a normal year. These are different from the high- and low-activity eras in the Atlantic hurricane region. The differences in seasonal activity between these two eras for the eastern Pacific are considerable. High-activity eras average about 4.5 more named storms, 2.8 more hurricanes, 2.3 more major hurricanes, and 56 more ACE points, than low-activity eras. During high-activity eras, above-normal seasons occur about three times more frequently (63% of seasons compared to 20%), and below-normal seasons are about four times less frequent (11% compared to 43%).

High- and low-activity eras in the eastern Pacific hurricane region are strongly related to global patterns of SST anomalies that change slowly and last for many years. It is upon these patterns that the inter-annual ENSO signal overlays. One such pattern is called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). The PDO spans most of the North Pacific Ocean, and is associated with decadal fluctuations in hurricane activity. The positive (negative) phase of the PDO tends to be associated with high- (low-) activity eras. Another SST pattern is the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), and when linked to wind patterns can be more broadly described as Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV), measured through the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM). The cold (warm) phase of the AMO increases the likelihood of a high- (low-) activity era. The AMO helps to explain the inverse relationship in activity between the eastern Pacific and Atlantic basins, with a warm AMO/positive AMM favoring increased Atlantic activity and decreased eastern Pacific activity. The AMO is positive this year with warm SSTs this year in the North Atlantic. The SST pattern in 2022 was also similar, but the eastern Pacific experienced above-normal activity.

The 1982-1994 high-activity era was associated with a cold AMO and a positive PDO, while the period from 2014-2019 exhibited higher activity and primarily featured a strong positive PDO, there is uncertainty about the classification of the activity regime in the Pacific. Such a short period of years would not define an activity era. This lull in activity could just be more consistent with repeat La Niña events overriding the multi-year signals. The intervening 1995-2013 low-activity era featured a warm AMO and negative PDO. Of the years when the August PDO was negative, approximately 70% of those years were near normal or below normal for activity (16 of 22 since 1971). The current value of the PDO is -2.15, and the SST patterns from this spring are similar to many low-activity years.

There is medium confidence that the current negative PDO pattern will persist through the hurricane season. One reason is that SST forecasts made several months ahead tend to have limited skill. Another reason is that the current negative PDO signal partly reflects the synoptic-scale wind and pressure patterns during the past months, influenced by La Nina, which is forecast to completely fade. ENSO changes typically lead PDO changes by months to seasons, with studies showing ENSO leading PDO by 6 to 24 months. In addition, JAS Niño 3.4 values and JAS PDO values are correlated at about 0.50, and the predictions for Niño 3.4 are well above zero (i.e., El Niño) in many models. The official ENSO outlook probabilities indicate the relatively high likelihood of El Niño. During El Niño years in high-activity eras, tropical cyclone activity in the eastern Pacific has almost a zero percent chance of a below-normal season based on data back to 1970. During El Niño years in low-activity eras, historical data indicate a 20% chance of a below-normal season. The current outlook, to account for uncertainty in the activity era classification, includes a 10% chance for a below-normal season.


Climate Prediction Center

  • Matthew Rosencrans, Physical Scientist, Matthew.Rosencrans{at}
  • Dr. Hui Wang, Physical Scientist; Hui.Wang{at}
  • Dr. Daniel Harnos, Meteorologist; Daniel.Harnos{at}

National Hurricane Center

  • Eric Blake, Senior Hurricane Specialist; Eric.S.Blake{at}
  • Dr. Christopher Landsea, Meteorologist; Chris.Landsea{at}

Hurricane Research Division

  • Stanley Goldenberg, Meteorologist; Stanley.Goldenberg{at}

NOAA/ National Weather Service
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Page Author: Climate Prediction Center Internet Team
Page last modified: May 25, 2023
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