Greek alphabet may be used for only the second time in history this hurricane season

Weather Headlines

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – September is the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane season when most tropical activity occurs before the season ends on November 30. It’s been a very active season–so active that we only have 1 name, Wilfred, left on the list for the 2020 Atlantic tropical season.

Given how busy it has been, it is likely we will run out of names on this year’s designated list. If that happens, the Greek alphabet will be used for naming more tropical systems. This would only be the second time in modern naming history that the use of the Greek alphabet for a tropical season has been needed.

The first time and only time, so far, the Greek alphabet was used due to extreme tropical activity in one season was in 2005 when we had historic storms like Katrina and Rita. That year, there was a total of 27 named storms with Zeta being the last. Zeta is the 6th name on the Greek list. 

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
  • Omega

The standard repeating 6 year list of tropical cyclone names is below and is maintained by the World Meteorological Organization with input from counties located withing the Tropical Atlantic Basin. In the event a significant or catastrophic Tropical Storm or Hurricane occurs and that name is retired, a replacement name is selected. Allison (2001) and Erika (2015) are the only storm names retired that never became hurricanes but still caused tremendous damage. The most recent hurricane name retired was Michael, a Category 5 storm that caused tremendous damage in the Florida Panhandle in 2018. There is no mechanism currently in place to retire a Greek alphabet storm name if it results in significant or catastrophic damage.

202020212022202320242025
Arthur
Bertha
Cristobal
Dolly
Edouard
Fay
Gonzalo
Hanna
Isaias
Josephine
Kyle
Laura
Marco
Nana
Omar
Paulette
Rene
Sally
Teddy
Vicky
Wilfred
Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Elsa
Fred
Grace
Henri
Ida
Julian
Kate
Larry
Mindy
Nicholas
Odette
Peter
Rose
Sam
Teresa
Victor
Wanda
Alex
Bonnie
Colin
Danielle
Earl
Fiona
Gaston
Hermine
Ian
Julia
Karl
Lisa
Martin
Nicole
Owen
Paula
Richard
Shary
Tobias
Virginie
Walter
Arlene
Bret
Cindy
Don
Emily
Franklin
Gert
Harold
Idalia
Jose
Katia
Lee
Margot
Nigel
Ophelia
Philippe
Rina
Sean
Tammy
Vince
Whitney
Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Francine
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Milton
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastien
Tanya
Van
Wendy

For clarity, modern naming history dates back to 1979 when the current name structure was implemented – 21 names, different letter of the alphabet (no Q, U, X, Y or Z), alphabetical order and male/female alternation. The naming of tropical systems via the phonetic alphabet dates back to 1953.

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