What happens when all the hurricane names are used?
Twenty tropical storms and hurricanes have already been named for 2020, and there are still months left to go in the storm season. The 11-storm average has been surpassed by far, and we have nearly exhausted the list of names that can be assigned.
So what happens after a naming of Tropical Storm or Hurricane Wilfred?
When all 21 names are used up in a season, the Greek alphabet is used. That means ‘Alpha’ will be on deck.
But there is still a problem according to James Franklin, former chief of the hurricane specialist unit at the National Hurricane Center.
If a hurricane or tropical cyclone worldwide is “particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one,” based on protocols set by the World Meteorological Organization. The National Hurricane Center notes that, in these instances, “future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity.”
Since 1954, 89 names have been retired and replaced from the World Meteorological Organization’s six-year rotating list of hurricane names. Katrina, for example, was replaced with Katia when the list cycled back in 2011. Before 1978, Atlantic storms were only assigned female names. The name Dorian, attached to the cataclysmic storm that brutalized Grand Bahama and Abaco islands in September 2019, has not yet been retired — because the conference at which that agenda item is addressed was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2020 has been a year of records.
Check this out…17 out of 20 storms that developed this year in the Atlantic have been the earliest storms to form according to its first letter.
— NWS Houston (@NWSHouston) September 14, 2020