2020: What A Stormy Year! UN Is Running Out Of Names For Storms

Geneva: With so many Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms this year, it seems the United Nations (UN) will run out of names before the year ends, forcing it to use the Greek alphabet.

Storms are given first names in alphabetical order but this year they are set to run out, reported NDTV quoting AFP.

“The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is so active that it is expected to exhaust the regular list of storm names,” Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the UN’s Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), told a media briefing.

“If this happens, the Greek alphabet will be used for only the second time on record.”

June 1 to November 30 is considered the annual hurricane season. Storms are given male and female names alternately. This year began with Arthur and Bertha.

Names make it easier to identify warning messages and are overseen by the WMO. They are reused every six years. But if the hurricanes are devastating, the name is retired and replaced, the report added.

The name lists use 21 of the 26 letters of the alphabet due to the difficulty in finding a balance of six easily recognisable English, Spanish, French and Dutch names starting with Q, U, X, Y and Z — the languages spoken in the Atlantic and Caribbean regions affected.

This year, only the name Wilfred remains unused. This means a switch to the Greek alphabet is looming, reported AFP.

This year is set to repeat a record set in September 1971, when there were five tropical cyclones over the Atlantic basin at the same time, Nullis was quoted as saying in the report.

So what is brewing at the moment?

Hurricane Paulette had its eye over Bermuda on Monday; Tropical Depression Rene has now dissipated; Hurricane Sally is likely to cause flash flooding on the US Gulf coast on Tuesday; Tropical Storm Teddy is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday, while Tropical Storm Vicky is over the Atlantic, reported NDTV.

There is more. According to the US National Hurricane Center, an area of low pressure has formed near Cape Verde and has a 50 percent chance of tropical cyclone formation in the next 48 hours.

The Greek alphabet was only ever used once before in 2005, when the first six letters were used as names for storms: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta.

It was an exceptional year with devastating hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. All these are retired, the report added.

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