Forecasters use Greek alphabet as they run out of storm names for second time ever

Wilfred was the last name on the 2020 list and the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used because of a lack of options

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 18 September 2020 20:18
Scientists use tidal data to link frequency and intensity of storms to rises in temperature
Scientists use tidal data to link frequency and intensity of storms to rises in temperature
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Weather forecasters have turned to the Greek alphabet as they have run out of storm names for only the second time ever.

Twenty storms have already formed in the current “hyperactive” storm season, with Tropical Storm Wilfred and Subtropical storm Alpha being named on Friday as they developed in the Atlantic.

Wilfred was the last name on the 2020 list and the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used because of a lack of options.

The only other time experts had to dish out Greek names was 2005, the busiest storm season on record.

That year brought the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, with the final and 28th storm of the year, Tropical Storm Zeta, being named on December 30.

A new system developing in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to shortly be named Tropical Storm Beta.

After Beta the next names used will be Gamma, Delta and Epsilon, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“The 2020 season has been remarkable," said CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.

“Every tropical wave or disturbance seems to be developing into a named storm. This stretch of hyperactivity is extremely rare.”

The National Hurricane Center in the US does not control the naming of hurricanes and storms.

This is overseen by the World Meteorological Organisation with a list of both male and female names that are used on a six year rotation.

The only time the lists are changed is if a storm is so deadly or costly that its use for a different storm would be inappropriate, according to the National Ocean Service.

Forecasters say that Wilfred is expected to die out next week without coming near land and Alpha is closer to the Europe than the US.

The National Hurricane Center says that Tropical depression 22 could become Hurricane Alpha as it churns across the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend and is viewed as a serious threat to the Texas coast.

Hurricane season officially runs from 1 June to November 30, and this year has so far seen eight hurricanes and 20 tropical storms.

Laura was the first hurricane of the season, making landfall as a Category 4 in Cameron, Louisiana on August 27, with Hannah, Isaias and Marco following as Category 1 hurricanes.

Weather experts at Colorado State University have predicted that 2020 will overall be the second busiest season, behind 2005.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the federal government last month predicted a total of 25 hurricanes and tropical storms.

Before the season they anticipated between 13 and 19 storms.

September is the time of year that storms develop in the open Atlantic, often near the Cape Verde Islands, and develop in strength and they move west towards the US and Caribbean.

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