4 hurricane names retired; no more Greek alphabet names

Weather

This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, at 2:40 p.m. EDT., and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Laura over the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Laura strengthened Wednesday into “an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane,” The National Hurricane Center said.
Laura is expected to strike Wednesday night into Thursday morning along the Louisiana-Texas border. (NOAA via AP)

The 2020 hurricane season was record-breaking on many levels. It caused destruction, death and brought to light some needed changes for the 2021 season.  

On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization’s Hurricane Committee announced that they are retiring four names from their rotating list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names, three of which were from the 2020 list.

Dorian (2019), Laura (2020), Eta (2020) and Iota (2020) are the latest of a total 93 retired names from the Atlantic basin since 1953.

Dorian was a category 5 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) and hit the northwestern Bahamas. It caused an estimated $3.4 billion in damages and more than 75% of all homes on the island were damaged. According to the Hurricane Committee, Dexter will replace Dorian on the list of names in 2025.

Image courtesy of the National Weather Service

Laura was a category 4 hurricane and hit Cameron, Louisiana. It brought a storm surge of at least 17 feet above ground level. This hurricane was responsible for 47 deaths and $19 billion in damages. The committee says Leah will replace Laura on the list of names in 2026. 

Image courtesy of the National Weather Service

Eota and Iota made landfall within two weeks of each other late in the 2020 hurricane season. They both hit the Nicaraguan coast just south of Puerto Cabezas. The tropical cyclones caused extensive flooding, 272 fatalities and $9 billion in damages. 

Eota and Iota will not be replaced because the Hurricane Committee will no longer use the Greek Alphabet. They say it has been used twice during the past 15 years and it is likely it will be used again.

Why the change? The Committee says the 2020 season showed there can be too much focus on the use of the Greek alphabet, similar pronunciations were confusing, translations of the names were confusing in different regions, all proving to be more of a challenge to safety messages. Members agreed to create a supplemental list of names A-Z (excluding Q,U, X,Y and Z). These names can be retired or replaced when need be.  

What the Hurricane Committee says will not change is the official start date of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season (June 1). The names of those storms have already been chosen.

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