There have been so many major storms in the North Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico this hurricane season that forecasters will soon run out of names — and will have to resort to the Greek alphabet.
At just halfway through the season, we have already used 17 out of this year’s alphabetized, 21-name list — with only Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred remaining.
And if the trend continues, as forecasters expect, this year will be only the second time that we’ve run to the end of the list, which is maintained by the World Meteorological Organization.
“Odds are high that the 21-name Atlantic list will be used up,” NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen told The Wall Street Journal.
“If that does occur, we’ll go to the Greek alphabet, which has been used only once before, that being in 2005.”
There were six Greek alphabet-named storms in 2005, a year that included Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, and we’re currently on Tropical Storm Rene, the earliest appearance of an R-named storm ever recorded.
Four additional “disturbances” are already being tracked by the NHC.
Forecasters warned in early August that this year’s hurricane season would be a bad one, with double the number of named storms predicted than for a normal season.
That means once Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred whip in and out, it will be time for Tropical Storm Alpha, followed by Beta, Gamma, Delta — and continuing for as long as the miserable season lasts.
The WMO maintains name lists for hurricane seasons worldwide, and they are reused on a rotating basis.
But names are retired when storms are “so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity,” the WMO says on its website.
Retirees include hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria from 2017.
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