2020 hurricane season uses Greek alphabet for only the second time ever, has the most named storms in a season

Quick Facts

  • 2020 has the most named tropical storms on record (28)
  • As of September 18th, there are no more names left in the 2020 hurricane name list
  • Names started being pulled from the Greek alphabet
  • The last time the Greek alphabet was used was in 2005

Although Oklahoma doesn’t often have impacts from hurricanes or tropical systems, 2020 is turning into a record year regarding hurricanes. Currently, we are on track to use all of the names on the 2020 Atlantic Basin hurricane name list.

The World Meteorological Organization has a preset list of 21 names that they rotate through every 6 years. These lists do not include names beginning with q, t, u, x, y and z since there are not enough names that start with those letters. The list alternates between male and female names. The list for a given year continues to rotate through unless a name is retired. In order for a name to be retired, there must be widespread damage and/or deaths.

As of Monday morning, there was only one name left of the 2020 list and it looks like the Greek alphabet will come into play. By Friday morning, Wilfred formed and there are no names left on the 2020 list. The next system name will be Alpha then Beta then Gamma, etc.

The naming convention we are used to began in the mid-1900s and since then, there has only been ONE year that the Greek alphabet has had to be used: 2005. That was the year, the Atlantic Basin broke records with 28 systems including hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma (all Category 5 hurricanes). 2005 saw six tropical systems named from the Greek alphabet and one unnamed storm that was found during the season’s post-analysis.

It is looking likely that 2020 will need to use the Greek alphabet for names before we get to the end of the season. Those names are as follows (left to right):


As of Friday, September 18, 2020, the first storm to get a name from the Greek alphabet formed off the coast of Portugal. It was so far east that it barely showed on the map from the National Hurricane Center.

Here is where things stand from the Greek alphabet so far for 2020:

As of October 19, 2020 - we are two named storms from breaking the record number of named storms in a year (2005).

As of October 25, 2020 - the year is TIED for the number of named storms in 2005 and one storm away from being tied for the number of storms in 2005.

As of November 2, 2020 - the year now holds the record for the number of named storms and is tied for the number of tropical systems seen with 2005.

As of November 9, 2020 - this year now has the most tropical systems on record with Tropical Storm Theta forming. That is 28 tropical systems and the year still is not over. Just a few days later on the 13th of November, Tropical Storm Iota formed continuing to put 2020 in the history books with tropical systems.