What Happens When We Run Out Of Hurricane Names In A Season?

September 16, 2020

This week, the National Hurricane Center was tracking five tropical weather events in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. This ties the record for the most number of tropical cyclones in that basin at one time, last set in September 1971. With such an active hurricane season, the world organization that names each storm has run into a problem.  Although we've just passed the half way mark of the 2020 hurricane season, there is only one name left in the approved name list.  Once we use "Wilfred," we're out of names and there’s a 50/50 chance Wilfred will be used on an area of low pressure that has formed near Cabo Verde in the next day or two! So what happens when you run out of names?  Fortunately, the World Meteorological Organization (the group that determines the names) has a plan.  After Wilfred, storm will go by letters of the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu, Xi, Omicron, Pi, Rho, Sigma, Tau, Upsilon, Phi, Chi, Psi and Omega).  It is only the second time ever this plan will be put into action (the first was in 2005, which brought us Katrina, Rita and Wilma). That gives us 24 more names that hopeful will not run out before November 30th!  Just another chapter of the unusual year we call 2020!

SOURCE: World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

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