We Just Ran Out of Names For Tropical Storms This Year Because 2020

“Get Out the Greek Alphabet For the Rest of 2020,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in a Tweet Friday. 
September 18, 2020, 6:02pm
This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at 3 p.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Sally moving slowly towards the coast from the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters now expect landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday near
This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at 3 p.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Sally moving slowly towards the coast from the Gulf of Mexico. (NOAA via AP)

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The National Hurricane Center just announced it’s officially run through a list of traditional, Atlantic storm names for the remainder of this particularly active hurricane season, thanks to the formation of Tropical Storm Wilfred. 

“Get Out the Greek Alphabet For the Rest of 2020,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in a Tweet Friday. 

Sure enough, the National Hurricane Center announced shortly after its first tweet that Subtropical Storm Alpha had formed near the coast of Portugal, adding to what could become one of the busiest storm seasons on record. 

Wilfred, the just-announced name for a storm about 630 miles west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, was the last traditional title pulled from the World Meteorological Organization’s rotating list this season. The list offers names beginning with 21 letters, but doesn’t cover Q, U, X, Y and Z because it’s difficult to find suitable names for them. The remaining few traditional titles this season were quickly claimed alphabetically by recent storms including Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Teddy.

The Greek alphabet has been broken out once before, according to the Associated Press: the 2005 hurricane season, which saw Hurricane Katrina wreck New Orleans. But even then, traditional names were available up until Hurricane Wilma was titled on Oct. 17. 

In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center updated the “extremely active” 2020 season’s forecast to predict 19 to 25 named storms in the Atlantic, including three to six major hurricanes. The average year produces about 12 named storms, including three major hurricanes, according to the center. 

The season, which is currently in its peak, ends Nov. 30. 

May’s Tropical Storm Arthur impacted North Carolina before the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season even officially began. More recently, Louisiana was thrashed by one of the most powerful storms in its history: Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that brought 150 mph winds and left parts of southwestern Louisiana in tatters. 

Earlier this week, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico also saw five active tropical systems at once — Sally, Paulette, Rene, Teddy, and Vicky — for just the second time in recorded history, according to the Sun Sentinel. 

Climate change is amplifying extreme weather events — including this year’s brutal wildfire season — while making hurricanes stronger and wetter. Hurricane Sally, which made landfall in Gulf Shores, Alabama as a slow-moving, drenching Category 2 storm Wednesday, was stoked by a warming atmosphere, according to the New York Times.