2020 hurricane season uses the Greek alphabet for only the second time ever

2020 hurricane season uses the Greek alphabet for only the second time ever

Quick Facts

  • As of Friday morning, there are no more names left in the 2020 hurricane name list
  • The next system to be named will be 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.

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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.

2020 Hurricane Names updated (9/18/2020)
2020 Hurricane Names updated (9/18/2020)

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 27 hurricanes including hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma (all Category 5 hurricanes). 2005 saw six tropical systems named from the Greek alphabet.

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):

Alpha Beta Gamma
Delta Epsilon Zeta
Theta Iota Kappa
Lambda Mu Nu
Xi Omicron Pi
Rho Sigma Tau
Upsilon Phi Chi
Psi Omega

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:

2020 Hurricane Names updated (9/21/2020)
2020 Hurricane Names updated (9/21/2020)