WMO Hurricane Committee ends usage of the Greek Alphabet and retires 4 tropical cyclone names

Today, the World Meteorological Society Hurricane Committee retired 4 tropical cyclones but also end its usage of the Greek Alphabet.

Retired Tropical Cyclone Names

The 4 tropical cyclones retired; consisted of one from 2019 (Dorian) and three from 2020 (Laura, Eta & Iota). Dorian was the strongest hurricane to impact the northwestern Bahamas; as a Category 5 in September 2019. The storm was known for stalling over Grand Bahama Island for an entire day. The reason Dorian was retired now and not last year was due to COVID-19 unfolding at that moment. Dorian will be replaced with Dexter for the 2025 season.

Laura made landfall over Cameron, Louisiana in August 2020, as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm was known for its devastating storm surge; which reached at least 17 feet above ground level. Laura will be replaced with Leah for the 2026 season. Hurricanes Eta & Iota impacted the northeast coast of Nicaragua near Puerto Cabezas; just nearly two weeks from each other in November. Both storms created extensive flooding and mudslides not just for Nicaragua; but also Honduras and nearby Central American countries. Eta made landfall as a Category 4; while Iota reached Category 5 before weakening to a Category 4 at landfall. The Hurricane Committee agreed to keep the Atlantic hurricane season start day on June 1st for this season, despite the recent trend of pre-season storms.

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The Hurricane Committee agreed that the 2020 season showed flaws when applying the Greek Alphabet names. These shortcomings ranged from the distracting focus on their names, instead of its impacts; its translation confusion, its pronunciation similarities, along with the retiring of Eta & Iota. The 1st 3 reasons exposed the communications concerns of delivering hazards and storm warnings to its local audience; as 9 storms formed in its 2nd go-around.

Starting with this season, the WMO released a list of supplemental names for both the Atlantic & Eastern Pacific basins to be used once the original list is exhausted. These new lists would also make a storm to be easily replaced with another name when retired. The main difference between both basins are that the Pacific consists of a name for most letters while the Atlantic omits Q, U, X, Y & Z.

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As always, our Storm Team will keep you updated with the latest tropical updates year-round; and if a storm were to impact Delmarva, we will be monitoring it before, during and after it happens.

Categories: Weather Blog