2020 hurricane season exhausts regular list of names
source: WMO (World Meteorological Organization)
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is so active that it has exhausted the regular list of storm names.
The Greek alphabet is now being used for only the second time on record.
WMO maintains rotating lists of names in alphabetical order for tropical cyclones. Male and female names are alternated, and the lists are used every six years. If a hurricane is particularly devastating or deadly, its name will be retired and a new one selected.
The use of the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, etc) has only happened once before in 2005, when six names from the Greek Alphabet were used. This was a record-breaking year with devastating hurricanes including Katrina, Rita and Wilma, whose names were all retired.
The name of a tropical cyclone may be retired or withdrawn from the active list at the request of any Member State if that tropical cyclone acquires special notoriety because of the human casualties and damage incurred. It is through consensus opinion of the members (or the majority, if required) during the session of the WMO Regional Association IV Hurricane Committee immediately following that season, that the name would be withdrawn from the active list.
Tropical cyclone Greek names
The Hurricane Committee annual session in 2006 discussed the use of the Greek alphabet for hurricane naming, and whether a Greek Alphabet name should be retired as done for a regular name when it meets the criteria for retirement.
The Committee felt that the use of the Greek Alphabet was not expected to be frequent enough to warrant any change in the existing naming procedure for the foreseeable future and therefore decided that the naming system would remain unchanged and that the Greek alphabet would continue to be used.
In this connection, the Committee also agreed that it was not practical to “retire into hurricane history” a letter in the Greek Alphabet. It therefore decided that if a significant storm designated by a letter of the Greek Alphabet, in either the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific Basin, was considered worthy of being “retired”, it would be included in the list of retired names with the year of occurrence and other details, but that the particular letter in the Greek Alphabet would continue to be available for use in the future”.