Greek alphabet, Laura among storm names retired by meteorologists
Four hurricane names have been retired due to widespread devastation in the past two hurricane seasons.
On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee announced the names Dorian, Laura, Eta and Iota will be removed from the list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names because of the lives lost and damages caused by those storms.
The use of the Greek alphabet for hurricane naming will also be retired. According to the WMO, this alphabet was confusing and impeded communication of hazard and storm warnings. Instead, a supplemental list of names from A-Z will be used, excluding names starting with Q, U, X, Y or Z. These names will be excluded because the letters are either not common enough or hard to pronounce in local languages.
All changes were discussed at the WMO online session, which lasted from March 15-17. Members also discussed preparations for the 2021 season.
This session comes in the wake of the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season, which had nine named storms between May and July and two major storms in November for the first time on record. The WMO's 21-name list was exhausted by the season, causing the use of Greek alphabet names for the second time in history. The last time the Greek alphabet was used to name hurricanes was in 2005.
Atlantic tropical cyclone name lists repeat every six years unless a storm is destructive enough to be removed from future lists. Since the naming system started in 1953, 93 names have been retired.
Hurricane names from 2019 were also discussed at this session since the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the committee's analysis of this season.