Why are we now using the Greek alphabet when naming storms in 2020?

Tracking the Tropics

Tropical Storm Delta is now forecast to make landfall as a hurricane, which would make it the record setting tenth United States land-falling tropical cyclone in a single hurricane season. Right now, the record is held by 1916, when nine tropical cyclones made landfall. This is shaping up to be the most land-falling tropical cyclones during a single season in over one hundred years.

The National Hurricane Center did not start presenting a list of names for these storms until 1953. If all names are used up, then the Greek alphabet kicks in. 2020’s hurricane season has produced twenty-six tropical depressions, twenty-five of which have become tropical storms. In addition, there have been eight hurricanes, two of which became major hurricanes.

Early on, NOAA’s forecast for August-November being “extremely active” months came to fruition, given every name on the 2020 Atlantic Names List was used before October, causing the Greek alphabet to kick in! The last time that happened was the 2005 hurricane season, which spurred Katrina.

September 14th marked the first time five named storms were in the Atlantic Basin at once in 49 years. The National Hurricane Center had not issued advisories on that many named storms at a time since 1971.

Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, and Vicky set the record for most named storms at once in the Atlantic Basin, not to mention additional spots worth monitoring for formation potential.

Hurricane name lists are repeated once every seven years, but certain names become retired if a storm is fatal or costly enough. Once the Greek alphabet kicks in, it is repeated annually if needed. The last time Delta was named was also during 2005 on November 23.

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