ORLANDO, Fla. – Wednesday, members of the World Meteorological Organization Hurricane Committee reviewed the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season to discuss which names would be retired among other items.
In any given season, if a storm creates so much damage or loss of life that it would be inappropriate to reuse for reasons of sensitivity, the World Meteorological Organization will retire that storm’s name. Think Andrew, Katrina, Ivan, Irma, Maria, etc. Atlantic storm names run on a six-year, revolving cycle. The storm names seen in 2020 will come around in 2026 unless they are retired.
This is done at the organization’s annual conference the following season. Due to COVID-19, the annual conference in 2020 to review the storms from the 2019 season was canceled. The 2019 hurricane season was revisited Wednesday.
Hurricane Laura devastated southwest Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. Laura was directly responsible for 47 deaths in the U.S. and Hispaniola. Laura caused more than $19 billion in damage. Laura will be replaced by Leah when the revolving list comes back around in 2026.
Both Eta and Iota made landfall less than two weeks apart along the same stretch of coastline in Nicaragua. The two combined resulted in 272 fatalities and more than 9 billion in losses.
Hurricane Dorian in 2019, devastated parts of the Bahamas as it slowly moved over the islands as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. Dorian caused an estimated $3.4 Billion in losses in Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama island. Dorian will be replaced by Dexter in 2025.
Also from the hurricane committee Wednesday, the Greek Alphabet will no longer be used in the case a single season runs out of names. For only the second time in history, 2020 needed the backup Greek Alphabet to complete the season.
Instead, a supplemental list of names was created if that were to happen again.
The 2020 season highlighted the need for a supplemental list for the following reasons:
- Can be too much focus on the names rather than the storm’s impacts.
- Confusion with translation to other languages that are impacted by Atlantic storms.
- Pronunciation and order in succession. Similar sounding names, Zeta, Theta, Eta, created challenges in communication.
- No formal plan to retire Greek names. 2020 was the first season Greek names were retired. Reuse of those names would be inappropriate.
The supplemental list is below.