No more Greek alphabet: Here’s what happens if we run out of hurricane names this year
Starting this year, there’s a new list of supplemental names to use if we run out
With a little more than two months left in the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, there are only two names left on this year’s list.
In prior seasons, forecasters would move to their backup plan of naming storms after letters of the Greek alphabet – a process that has only been used in 2005 and 2020.
In 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, there were 28 named storms. That forced the use of six letters of the Greek alphabet as names: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta
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The record-setting Atlantic hurricane season of 2020 saw 30 named storms. That forced the use of nine letters of the Greek alphabet as storm names: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota.
After last year’s extremely active season, meteorologists decided to reevaluate the use of the Greek alphabet for storm names.
A meeting of forecasters at the World Meteorological Organization, which is responsible for developing lists of storm names, determined the continued use of the Greek alphabet could cause confusion, especially for people in the storm’s path. For example, Zeta, Eta and Theta, which sound similar, were used within weeks of each other last year.
The WMO developed the following list of 21 supplemental names to be used starting in 2021 in the event the seasonal list of 21 names is depleted.